34 votes
Accepted

How to notate time signature switching consistently every measure

Yes, one possible way is to clarify a "5+3" meter throughout. Depending on the music, this could be preferable to just writing 8/4 if the meter is clearly a 5+3 layout. As one example of how this ...
Richard's user avatar
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33 votes

Notes not adding up to time signature, with weird white oval note

The piece shown in the question is from the Punjabi psalter of 1908, which compiled the 150 psalms into a collection metrically appropriate for the Punjabi language. The complete collection can be ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 88k
29 votes

Why are time signatures not used in this score?

This free-thinking question has already provoked at least one thoughtful answer. The sample score happens to have time signatures, however, beginning with 4 bars of 4⁄4 and going into a bar of ...
lauir's user avatar
  • 652
29 votes

Is it true that cut time means "play twice as fast as written"?

It would be more accurate to say that cut time "will sound twice as fast as the same notes played in 4/4 at the same tempo". That's essentially what they're trying to get across. But even that ...
Tom Serb's user avatar
  • 4,817
28 votes
Accepted

Notes not adding up to time signature?

They add up fine. The first three notes you see, with the 3 underneath them are to be played on the count of one quarter. These are called triplets. The same for the second three notes and then the ...
Shevliaskovic's user avatar
27 votes
Accepted

How is it that 12 eighth notes fit in a measure labeled as common time?

They are actually eighth note triplets instead of eighth notes. The alternative notation to this would be to group the eighth notes and rests in threes and put a 3 over them like a standard triplet, ...
Dom's user avatar
  • 47.7k
26 votes

Why use odd time signatures?

It basically comes down to how the way the notes/beats are emphasised affects how your ear hears how the beats are grouped. Listening to a piece in 5/4, you'll hear that the beats are audibly in ...
Нет войне's user avatar
25 votes

Can one use a whole note to span a full 5/4 measure?

I would like to add a detail to Richard's answer. The bars sometimes has a 3+2 rhythm and other times a 2+3 rhythm. You could notate the long held chords in synchronization with that. So when it is 3+...
Lars Peter Schultz's user avatar
25 votes

Is 41/16 a proper time signature?

There aren't really rules around "proper" time signatures, so much as practical considerations. "Is there another way of expressing this?" Yes, there is almost certainly a better ...
Andy Bonner's user avatar
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23 votes
Accepted

Sheet music time signature question

The first measure is called a pickup measure. The music stars on the fourth beat, so the music would start with rests. Sometimes people will put the rests in, other times (as here) they will leave ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
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22 votes
Accepted

I don't understand the bottom number in a time signature

To put it very simply, the bottom number tells you what the top number is referring to. It is a little clearer to use the fractional way of discussing notes, so: minim = half (1/2) note crotchet = ...
Peter's user avatar
  • 6,496
22 votes
Accepted

Why does this time signature have addition?

It is 9/8, BUT the 'normal' 9/8 is three sets of three quavers - thus the bottom number of 8. 2+2+3+2 also equals 9, and it's written that way so the player can understand what the composer wants as ...
Tim's user avatar
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21 votes
Accepted

How do you know if a song has triplets in 4/4 or if the tempo is 3/4?

Technically speaking, you can't ever say for certain until you see the composer's original score (if there even is one); a piece could literally be written in an infinite number of time signatures. As ...
Richard's user avatar
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21 votes

Can music time signatures really be irrational?

He's just showing off. There's a few major reasons why what he describes doesn't matter. First and foremost, sheet music is a guide. It's not actually the music. You are always expected to put ...
Cort Ammon's user avatar
  • 1,713
21 votes

Is it true that cut time means "play twice as fast as written"?

That sentence "Played twice as fast as written" indicates that someone must have a misunderstanding. Someone who probably thinks that quarter notes are supposed to be played at a certain speed. That ...
Lars Peter Schultz's user avatar
21 votes
Accepted

Can one use a whole note to span a full 5/4 measure?

You're correct that a whole rest is used for this purpose, but I've never seen actual note values used in that way. The whole+quarter construct seems to me the smart way to go. This is especially ...
Richard's user avatar
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20 votes

Is there any practical difference between 3/4 and 3/8 time?

In the context of Baroque dance music or suites, then there are good reasons to use 3/8 in preference of 3/4 (or vice versa). In the days before metronomes, how the music was notated would be an ...
ChristopheLynch's user avatar
20 votes

How is it that 12 eighth notes fit in a measure labeled as common time?

The eighth notes in the left hand are all triplets. The ones in the right hand are normal. Note how the note heads line up vertically in measure 4. On a purely technical level, this is incorrect ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
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19 votes
Accepted

Can music time signatures really be irrational?

I'll give this another spin: Can music time signatures really be rational? Which I'd answer: no, not really. Rationality is a mathematical concept, depending on an exact, axiomatic notion of ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
19 votes

Is there a notation for borrowing a beat from the next measure?

If possible please avoid uncommon notation! It will often not be easier to read. Maybe do something like this This is more or less how Schumann does this in Mondnacht:
Lazy's user avatar
  • 20.4k
18 votes

Do time signatures make sense?

If you think the denominators are arbitrary, try notating a stately sarabande in 3/8 time - you'll drown in beams and flags. Next, try notating a lively tarantella in 3/1 time - you'll be overwhelmed ...
Kilian Foth's user avatar
  • 7,563
18 votes

Cannot get bar to accord with time signature

There are two separate voices, both add up to 3/4. You can think that there are two singers, singer 1 sings voice 1, and singer 2 sings voice 2.
piiperi Reinstate Monica's user avatar
18 votes

Is Queen's Killer Queen in 4/4, 12/8, or both?

A time signature is a notational choice, not a property of the music itself. It's improper to say that a song (referring to the finished audio product) is "in" a particular time signature. ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
  • 22.4k
15 votes

How can a 59/48 time signature be counted?

It can be interpreted not as 59/48, but as 5/4+9/8 (i.e. 19/8). Sometimes composers use two meters to express the "alternation" (1st beat has 1st time signature, 2nd has 2nd, 3rd has 1st again, 4th ...
trolley813's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

Is it Possible to Write Straight Eights in 12/8

Yes it is possible. Similar to triplets, there are duplets which tell you 2 notes go where 3 use to. Similarly to triplets you would group the eigth notes in two and put a two over there beams like ...
Dom's user avatar
  • 47.7k
15 votes

How to notate time signature switching consistently every measure

One way which is possible is to show two time signatures, as here from Tchaikovsky's second String Quartet via Popflock: This warns the user that bars of each length are to be expected. You haven't ...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
  • 1,020
15 votes
Accepted

Time signature inconsistent

The notes in the upper staff are tuplets. As an aid towards your eventual goal, here is some sample code to create what you're looking for: \version "2.19.82" musicA = \relative c' { \key cis \...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.5k

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