15 votes
Accepted

Why is "Für Elise" written in 3/8 when there are a few bars in 2/16?

The first measure that you highlighted in red is called a pickup measure (or anacrusis) and the bracket enclosing the second measure is called a volta bracket. The combined length of the pickup ...
GratefulDisciple's user avatar
14 votes

How to write time signatures in emails and texts

It's difficult to find authoritative style guides freely available online. It's fairly easy to find examples online, however, including from publishers whose house style guides are considered ...
phoog's user avatar
  • 22.9k
13 votes

Were there any automatic timekeeping devices prior to the metronome used for setting and maintaining tempo (BPM) and pulse?

One consideration is: Asking "What did people use to keep the musical pulse steady before the technology was available" might be an anachronistic angle. Richard Taruskin talks about an "...
Andy Bonner's user avatar
  • 17.2k
12 votes

How to write time signatures in emails and texts

Write it like you would a fraction. I am writing a piano piece in 2/4 … by the same logic as maths, it's 2 over 4.
Tetsujin's user avatar
  • 27.8k
12 votes
Accepted

Confusion about time signature

I've learned that the top number in the time signature is the the number of beats in the measure and the bottom number is the length of note that equals a beat. That's half right. Top number is 'how ...
Laurence's user avatar
  • 92.9k
11 votes

Why is "Für Elise" written in 3/8 when there are a few bars in 2/16?

You are correct that they complement each other. The first notes are called "pickup" notes or, more formally, they are an anacrusis: "one or more unstressed notes before the first bar ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 88k
11 votes

Why are there no notes called 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th etc?

Technically, third, fifth, sixth, etc. notes do exist - only they aren't usually called that. Here is what some third, sixth, twelfth and fifth notes look like: More commonly refered to with terms ...
Divizna's user avatar
  • 2,504
9 votes
Accepted

How do I decide if my piece should be expressed as 3/4, 6/4 or 3/2?

This type of question in general can be considered opinion based but there are underlying factors here that make some choices better than others. Looking at the rhythms in both hands but especially ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
8 votes

What is this weird “e” time signature?

That e symbol is actually more similar to a c, and is known as common time. It is equivalent to 4/4 time. There is also a similar symbol, which consists of the same c-like symbol but with a vertical ...
Gandalf The Bard's user avatar
8 votes

If you write a song by doing the lyrics first isn’t that technically starting with time (rhythm) rather than with pitch? Is the term for it phrasing?

Starting with lyrics — and only lyrics — does not imply starting with time or pitch. Lyrics could have any duration or rhythm depending on the desires of the composer. As soon as measures, beats, or ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 88k
8 votes

Inconsistent number of beats per measure

If it makes you happier, you could edit those bars to insert the missing bar lines, then convert the second minim/half note to two tied crotchets/quarter notes, e.g. As Andy Bonner notes in a comment,...
Simon B's user avatar
  • 1,813
6 votes
Accepted

What is the correct rest grouping in 6/4 time?

TL;DR Both ABRSM study materials and Behind Bars by Elaine Gould indicate that the given notation is acceptable and should not be marked as incorrect. Why the test example is correctly notated First ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 88k
6 votes

Were there any automatic timekeeping devices prior to the metronome used for setting and maintaining tempo (BPM) and pulse?

It is a simple question and the answer is yes. Thomas Mace suggested using a pendulum for specifying pulse in late 17th century. An early attempt at a timekeeping device was made by Abbas ibn Firnas ...
Lazy's user avatar
  • 20.4k
6 votes

What is this weird “e” time signature?

Basically the "C"-like symbol means 4/4 today. The origin is a lot more murky and less known (even someone like me who studied music theory as a music major in college didn't know it until ...
GratefulDisciple's user avatar
6 votes

Is a whole note always one bar long, regardless of the time signature?

Whole notes are always equal to four quarter notes, so are not used in 3/4 time. Whole rests, however, are used for whole measures regardless of time signature.
Aaron's user avatar
  • 88k
6 votes

Confusion about time signature

This is a slight confusion of terminology that happens all the time when teaching/learning about time signatures. The statement: the top number in the time signature is the the number of beats in ...
Elements In Space's user avatar
6 votes

Why are there no notes called 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th etc?

When using time signatures in a straightforward way, it makes sense to choose ones that can be conveniently notated! We have quarter notes, so lower figure '4' is sensible. We have eight notes, so '...
Laurence's user avatar
  • 92.9k
5 votes

Were there any automatic timekeeping devices prior to the metronome used for setting and maintaining tempo (BPM) and pulse?

When music is played for dancing, usually the musicians have a pretty good sense of the tempo the dancers will want. The optimum dancing tempo depends on the nature of the dance movements and the ...
Mark Lutton's user avatar
  • 8,790
5 votes
Accepted

How to count when bass and treble clefs share notes or chords

Why are you expecting to find 16 8th notes per stave in a 4/4 bar? 4/4 is 4 quarter notes per bar (or 8 8th notes or 16 16th notes, etc). You are also miscounting. The staves are independent of each ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
5 votes

How do I decide if my piece should be expressed as 3/4, 6/4 or 3/2?

There are two primary considerations: Where (e.g., on which notes) do the pulses fall, and Which pulses are relatively stronger and weaker. 3/2 In 3/2 time, there are three pulses, presumed to be ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 88k
5 votes

Are the terms time and rhythm interchangeable?

Rhythm, tempo, and meter are all different aspects of time. Meter and rhythm both describe the distribution of certain events over time, but meter is generally concerned with defining evenly spaced ...
phoog's user avatar
  • 22.9k
5 votes

How to notate free time in MuseScore

One approach is to split the sequence into smaller measures and hide time signatures and barlines for the passage, In MuseScore select the element and deselect 'visible' in the properties tab, then ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
  • 21.3k
5 votes
Accepted

What does "gets the beat" mean?

It simply means that the quarter note is the unit of measurement, or one beat. So 4/4 means 4 quarter notes per bar. “gets the beat” is the same as “equals one beat”. There are some exceptions, mainly ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
5 votes

Why are there no notes called 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th etc?

Little-known factoid - you can take the reciprocal of the bottom number of a time signature and get the fraction of a whole note each component note of the time signature takes up. For example: 4/4 ...
Dekkadeci's user avatar
  • 14.1k
4 votes

How to write time signatures in emails and texts

On this site, which has many experienced contributors, I've never seen time signatures written in any other way than fractions - 3/4, 6/8. No, it's not technically correct, but it's the accepted way, ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 193k
4 votes
Accepted

I am unsure of what time signature to use for my piece, as I'm pretty sure it changes mid-way through

Yes, you can change time signatures any time you want. There's a bit of subjective decision-making involved: If what is currently m. 7 beat 3 is to become a downbeat, then what comes before? The ...
Andy Bonner's user avatar
  • 17.2k
4 votes
Accepted

If I've put the notes correctly in the first piano roll image, why does it not sound correct?

The first image is completely different than what is played in the video. Just one example: The first note in the piano roll image is A6, but the first note played on guitar is the open E string, ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 88k
4 votes
Accepted

Why does the tab below show 4/4 and not 16/16 when there are 1/16th notes, but the next section shows 9/16?

A time signature is not meant to contain the smallest denominator of a piece. It is meant to establish a beat or pulse which can then be broken down into smaller groups of notes but still preserve ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
4 votes

How to write time signatures in emails and texts

I think I also always see "2/4" style notation, which perhaps is an informal standard. It's easy to type, even in plain text, without any markup. Moreover, it's searchable. On a music staff ...
user1079505's user avatar
  • 16.7k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible