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time signature questions

Technique
gshredder2112  
28 Mar 2011 20:52 | Quote
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ok,i havn a little trouble understanding tim e signatures,as in how many beats are in 4/4 would i count1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 then reapeat?or 3/4 would i count 1-2-3 1-2-3-4? is what i just said correct or am i way off? all help is appreciated!

gs2112
BodomBeachTerror  
28 Mar 2011 20:59 | Quote
Joined: 27 May 2008
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the top number represents the number of beats in the measure, the lower number is the type of beat

3/4 is 3 quarter notes (quarter note because a quarter is 1/4 of 1)
4/4 is 4 quarter notes
gshredder2112  
28 Mar 2011 23:14 | Quote
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so lemme see if i got this right,in a 4/4 setting a 1 bar measure would be 4quarter notes or chords,and a 3/4 is 3 quarters per bar.so in a 2/4 would be two quarters per bar? tell me if im wrong.
nullnaught  
29 Mar 2011 02:53 | Quote
Joined: 05 Jun 2010
Karma: 22
The top number tells us how many beats are included in each measure of our song; therefore, a 4 means we are to count 4 beats per measure, a 2 means 2 beats per measure, 3 is 3 beats, etc. That's easy enough, yes? Great... now that bottom number tells us which note value receives one beat.

does this mean that 3/4 = 123 123 123 123
and 2/4 = 12 12 12 12
and of course 4/4 = 1234 1234 1234 1234

Is this right?
DSC  
29 Mar 2011 03:46 | Quote
Joined: 31 Oct 2008
United Kingdom
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Yes you are right. as you said the top number is how many beats to the bar. and bottom number is the value of that beat. 4 being a crotchet and 8 being a quaver.

The way I look at it is that the bottom number simply indicates the speed of the music.

7/4 is half the speed of 7/8
RA  
29 Mar 2011 09:00 | Quote
Joined: 24 Sep 2008
United States
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DSC says:
The way I look at it is that the bottom number simply indicates the speed of the music.

7/4 is half the speed of 7/8


now that's not really correct, and hopefully it will be explain, but to make more sense I'm going to start somewhere else and try to get there.

First time signatures are only literally accurate when dealing with simple meters (3/4, 4/4, 2/4). and the above explanations are more than correct.

Once you get rhythms that are out of simple meter the system breaks down. It just isn't very good, for it was designed with late renaissance and early common practice in mind and they were more concerned with counterpoint than rhythm and thus have VERY simple rhythms.

In fact, a lot of rhythms are completely indescribably and can only be heard. Take swing for instances; I don't have a clue as how to say what it is but I can play it easy and the only way for you to know it is to hear it.

what happen is a lot of time signatures really become symbols as apposed to being taking literally.

take the simple meter of 3/4 and the compound meter of 6/8. If to be take literally you could just reduce 6/8 into 3/4, but that's not what 6/8 means.

3/4 is a waltz meaning it goes |1 2 3|1 2 3|1 2 3|. (I'm assuming you know waltz very well)

while 6/8 is |1 & a 2 & a|1 & a 2 & a|1 & a 2 & a|. which creates a kind of two feeling thingy (I'm really bad with the whole "Ands" and "ahs" notation so bare with me [i'm not sure but i might need a 3])

n example of 6/8 is "Norwegian wood" seeing that you know what a waltz is, try playing the melody in a straight 3/4 time and you should hear the difference.




The main thing is that the top note is the most important. The bottom number has become more of a symbol and helps you set your metronome. In fact a lot of modern music scores are just getting rid of time signatures all together.

The best way to get all of this crap, is to start learning how to read notation. That is what its for anyway, if your just going to listen than what is the point. but you will never FULLY get theory if your just going to listen
gshredder2112  
29 Mar 2011 11:31 | Quote
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another question,could i substitute a whole note for a 16th in a 4/4 setting? how would i do that?
btimm  
29 Mar 2011 12:23 | Quote
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No. A whole note in a 4/4 time signature would get 4 beats. A 16th note would get 1/4 of a beat.
gshredder2112  
29 Mar 2011 13:00 | Quote
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so iin a 4/4 if i played 16th notes i would make each note 4 notes,so i would play thirtytwo notes per bar?
btimm  
29 Mar 2011 14:34 | Quote
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If you played sixteenth notes for one measure of 4/4, you would play 16 notes.

4 sixteenth notes in a beat. 4 beats in a measure. 4x4=16.
gshredder2112  
29 Mar 2011 14:49 | Quote
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ohh derr i guess i shoulda stayd awake in math class,so i gues what i explained befor was thirty secondth notes.makes better sense now thanks timm
Domigan_Lefty  
29 Mar 2011 15:56 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
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Simple explanation.
Top number: how many beats per measure (4/4: 1,2,3,4; 3/4: 1,2,3; these are one measure)

Bottom number: what note value gets one beat (1/2: 1; each beat held out for the value of a half note in 4/4; 8/16: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8; each beat sounds as a 16th note in 4/4)

so 4/4 1e&a, 2e&a, 3e&a, 4e&a
in 4/8 would be 1&2&3&4&
or something close to that
so although they would look the same, they would sound differently
gx1327  
30 Mar 2011 12:24 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 9
look at it this way. each time you divide a whole note in half, its duration is only half as long as it used to be.

in a time signature of x/4 (ignoring the numerator for the time being), the quarter note gets 1 beat. i'm pretty sure that has been established by now. a "quarter" is 1/4th of one "whole" beat.

every time you divide a note in half... its duration is half as long.

1 whole note = 4 beats (each beat being 1/4th of the bar), 1/4 notes per beat (measuring a beat by down+up of your foot)
1 half note = 2 beats, 1/2 notes per beat
1 quarter note = 1 beat, 1 note per beat
1 eigth note = 1/2 beat, 2 notes per beat
1 sixteenth note = 1/4 beat, 4 notes per beat

anything faster than a sixteenth note is unnecessary in my opinion (in most cases you can just double the tempo and change all your 1/16th notes to 1/8th notes) but occasionally they appear, and do the math accordingly (1/32nd notes and 1/64th notes)

trip-a-lets are when you divide a beat (same as a 1/4note in x/4 time) into three evenly spaced notes

as explained above, 3/4 time is exactly the same as 4/4 time except the bar only has 1-2-3 and not 1-2-3-4. when counting them out it's practical to emphasize the first beat (as in, "ONE two three four ONE two three four" or "ONE two three ONE two three"). 3/4 is often referred to as a waltz, i'm sure you are familiar with the blue danube just sing that in your head and you can see the 3/4 count.

once you get simple (x/4 counts) down things cna get kind of crazy. i don't even remember how to count 12/8 (it's a very tripalet-y feel), and you can start seeing some crazy rhythms in popular songs.


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