06 Time Signature or Meter

 

Time Signatures or Meter

Counting Common Time Signatures

The time signature tells you the meter of the piece.  Each measure of the music is made up of a set number of beats.  The Composer sets this number and notates it using a time signature or meter.

The two numbers of the time signature tell you how many beats are in a measure and what type of note value will get the beat. 

As an example, in each measure of the time signature 3/4, there would be 3 quarter notes in each measure. 

In 4/4 time signature there would be 4 quarter notes in each measure.  In 2/4 there would be two beats in each measure etc.

Here are three well known tunes.  Notice how the phrasing of the melody and words match the time signature.

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*Remember that every bar does not have to use four quarter notes but a grouping of notes and rests that add up to four quarters or a whole. 

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Time Signatures do not have to use quarters for every beat of the measure.

6/8 time

has an 8 on the bottom which indicates that beat is given to the 1/8th note.  In this case there would be 6 eighth notes in every measure.  In other words you would count the beats 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in every measure.