Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Music Theory Lesson: Time Signatures (part 2)

In our last music theory article I shared some information on what are time signatures, bars and barlines. Today I want to continue sharing information on the topic Time Signatures (simple time signatures to be specific).
Time signatures tell us the number of beats that are in each bar of a piece of sheet music. Here are the three simple time signatures to be discussed today.
Each time signature shown above tells us the number of beats to be played in each bar. The top number tells us how many beats to play while the bottom number tells us what type of beat is is being used. In this case "4" at the bottom tell us that crotchet or quarter note beats are used. A quarter note equals 1 beat.
Now let us discuss each time signature in more details.
This time signature is telling us that there are two beats in each bar. This means that you will have regular steady counts of (1 2) in each bar. For example - say you have four bars to play using this time signature, then you will count 1 2 - 1 2 - 1 2 - 1 2. The "two over four" time signature does not mean that you will have only two crotchets or quarter notes in each bar, but you can have any type of notes in each bar once they adds up to two beats. Look at the illustration below.

The next time signature we will look at is;

This is what the "three over four" time signature looks like on the staff. When you see this time signature it means that there are three beats in each bar. The functions for each number was discussed earlier and it applies to this time signature and other simple time signatures also. The 3/4 time signature has regular steady count of (123). For more than one bar you will count 123-123-123-123 and so on. Below is an example illustrating notation using 3/4 time signatures.

The next time signature we will look at is;

The 4/4 is the most popular time signature. It tell us that there are four beats in  each bar of a piece of music. It has a regular steady count of 1234. When you play music with this time signature in multiple bars you will have a regular group of counts - 1234 - 1234 - 1234 - 1234 and so on. When the 4/4 time signature is used you can have all the different notes represented in a bar once all the notes in each bar adds up to 4 beats.
This illustration below should help;

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Please leave your comments.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Carlinton Singh.

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