Author Topic: No__119__Guide to understanding Time Signatures  (Read 8805 times)

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2019, 07:18:05 AM »

Here is a photo of musical knives as used in the sixteenth century.



They each had engraved musical scores, which allowed the guests to sing at the start and at the end of the meal.  Perhaps this is where the expression “Sing for your supper!” came from.

Each music score knife was intended for a different voice:

     superior,         countertenor,            tenor,          bass.

I wonder did they come with a set of tuning forks?

We will go back to continue exploring Simple Time further in the next Reply,

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2019, 07:35:26 AM »


Let us explore Simple Time further.

   Remember 4/4     
             

The top number 4 tells us the number of beats in each bar, while the bottom number, which also happens to be 4 in this case, informs us that each beat is
    equivalent to a crochet    =      a quarter note      =     ¼

   So if we add 4 crochets, to the first bar, it would look like this.

             

This meter, and others in this group, are simple time because each quarter note, defined by that 4 in the denominator, divides equally into two eighth notes, like this:
       

This is why these time signatures are declared to be Simple.

Equally, because the half-note divides equally into two quarter notes, or the whole note divides equally into two half notes, they too, are classified as simple.

Any time signature where the notes in the bar can be divided in to two, are all classified as Simple Time.

Simple time signatures are the most common kind of time signature and they pop up regularly in popular music due to their clear, easy to determine beats.

When thinking about Time Signatures, it is best to think in terms of beats rather than notes, as you will see, as you read on.


In the next Reply, you will find a summary chart for Simple Time.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2019, 05:26:05 AM »

Here is a chart showing some common Simple Time Signatures



The use of the words   Duple    Triple    &    Quadruple are pretty obvious but will be explained further in a couple of Replies further on.


But before that, in the next Reply, we look in more detail at Cut Time.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2019, 06:31:45 AM »
Cut Time

Cut Time, or Cut Common Time, which is also known as Alla breve  {alla ˈbrɛːve} is a musical meter notated by the time signature symbol cut time like this:



 which is the equivalent of   2 / 2.

The term is Italian for "on the breve", originally meaning that the beat was counted on the breve.

Alla breve is a "simple-duple meter with a half-note pulse". 
The note denomination that represents one beat is the minim or half-note. There are two of these per bar, so that the time signature   2 / 2    may be interpreted as "two minim beats per bar."

You should be able to see that if two pieces of music written in   4 / 4    and    2 / 2  could not look identical, but they could sound very similar.

So why are they different?

The reason is in that time signature, and the beats.

For the    4 / 4 



     we count    ONE - two - three - four.

The main emphasis is on the first beat, with the three having slightly more emphasis than both two and four.

By contrast for,    2 / 2   


         we count     ONE - Two.

This simple count of     One - Two,   closely related to the marching call of    Left - Right,   so   2 / 2   is commonly used for marches.

By now you can deduce, how the choice of time signature, can alter the feel, mood and style of any piece of music, because where the emphasis on the beats in a bar occur, and how far those main ones are apart, play a very nice important role.

In the next Reply you will find a YouTube example, of a very well known piece, where these two time signatures are used in the same music score.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2019, 07:24:13 AM »
Here is a YouTube clip, that is particularly relevant to this Pearl about Common and Cut time, because as this piece continues, it gradually increases in speed, moving from sounding like a    4/4   to   sounding like a  2/2.

Now that is actually what occurs.
By the end of the piece, the conductor directs the orchestra in Cut Time rather than Common Time.

The music notes in the score would look exactly the same, but the time signature affects the pace that the piece is played at.
Listen to this performance to hear the beats get faster and see if you can hear when the orchestra switches into Cut Time!

Remember, it starts with counting,   1  2  3   4,   1  2  3   4, etc
      but then switches to counting,   1      2,        1      2,      etc

In this video, the Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra are playing, In the Hall of the Mountain King, by Edvard Grieg:




You will also find this YouTube item in Peters Pearls No 120 - Identifying the Time Signature, (where I have also given you a hint to help you).

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3509.msg12851#msg12851


To read the whole Pearl from the beginning, click this link:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3509.msg12808#msg12808

In the next Reply, we consider the other classification of Time Signatures.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2019, 07:03:31 AM »

Now let us come back to....

Duple,     Triple     &      Quadruple time

The second level of classification for Time Signatures is how many beats there are in a bar.

There are three which are the most common

               Duple time
               Triple time
               Quadruple time


These simply refer to whether any regular time signature can be divided by     2,   3,   or   4.

                A duple meter has 2 beats per measure,
                a triple meter has 3 beats per measure, and
                a quadruple meter has 4 beats per measure.

Duple time is where we will have    2   main beats in a bar.

Examples of this are        2/4 which has   2   crotchet beats in a bar



                                Or    2/2    which has   2   minim beats in a bar.


Triple time is where we have   3   main beats in a bar.
 
Examples of this include    3 /4 which has   3   crotchet beats in a bar


 or  3/8  which has   3   quaver beats in a bar.



Quadruple time is where we have   4   main beats in a bar.

Examples of this are  4/4    which has   4  crotchet beats in a bar



                             Or  4/2 which has   4   minim beats in a bar.


Each of the above examples are also classified as Simple Time Signatures.


In the next two Replies you will find links to YouTube examples of some of these Time Signatures.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2019, 09:37:06 PM »

Here is a link to a Piece written and played in 3/4 time, which is found in Peters Pearls #120 - Identifying the Time Signature of a piece of music:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3509.msg12856#msg12856

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2019, 06:36:13 AM »
Here is a link to a Piece written and played in 2/4 time, which is found in Peters Pearls #120 - Identifying the Time Signature of a piece of music:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3509.msg12858#msg12858

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2019, 06:55:51 AM »

In the next Reply we go back to examine 2    Compound Time.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2019, 06:58:36 AM »

      2       Compound Time

This is a little more complicated.

Compound time signatures differ from simple time signatures in that the beat is divided into three equal parts, rather than two.

The top number of compound time signatures is commonly      6,    9,  or   12   

i.e. multiples of 3,    and the most common compound time signatures you will be using are:

6/8


      9/8


12/8


The numbers in these time signatures function in nearly the same way as simple time signatures, but there is one key difference.

Although. the bottom number means the same thing as it does in simple time signatures, namely the note size that equates to each of the beats in the bar,

here the difference is with the top number.

While the top number in
                     simple time signatures represents how many beats are in a bar
,

the top number in compound time signatures represents the number of divisions in a bar.

While divisions and beats may seem like the same thing, we will discover why they are different.

We give examples and more clarification to divisions in 3 Replies time.

We continue with this theme in the next Reply.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2019, 06:27:50 AM »
In Compound Time signatures, the beat is broken down into 3-part rhythms.
The top number is always divisible by 3, with the exception when the top number is 3.

Also, each beat is divided into 3 components, creating a        1 - 2 - 3     pulse.

So Compound Time is any meter whose basic note division breaks into groups of three.

So you automatically know you are not in simple time if there is a number 8 at the bottom of your time signature.

An 8 to mark simple time would be pointless.    Think about it.

So, when you see an 8 as the bottom number of your time signature, you know that your eighth notes should be grouped together in groups of three instead of two!

Let us take an example and use 6/8

               


        and here you have six beats in each bar with quavers, which divides into three groups of two eighth-notes,

     

     while in 9/8 ( 9 beats in each bar of quavers) you have three groups of three,  eighth notes,

 


and 12/8 (12 beats in each bar of quavers) has four groups of three eighth notes.

 


Technically, to get a compound time sound, composers could use a simple time signature and then mark all of the main beat subdivisions in triplets—making a duple division into a triple—throughout an entire piece to get the same effect.

 

However, using triplets throughout a piece, as you can well imagine, to get a compound time sound, would appear quite messy on the score, not to mention how extremely cluttered it would be on the page. 
Playing it would also be a strain on your eyes, your concentration levels and your brain power.

But be aware that the use of 12/8 and the 4/4 using triplets, will, to the listener, sound exactly the same, as the previous image clearly shows.

Anyway, using triplets instead, would be very confusing for performers.

Interestingly, from a historical point of view, even though it has been more common to see a simple time signature with the duple (i.e. split in two) divisions in Western music during the past five or six centuries, it was actually compound time which developed and was notated first!

Because Western music notation developed alongside church music, much of the underlying theory surrounding music had a theological basis. 
For time signatures, the most common subdivision was in compound or triple divisions to relate musical time, being three in one, similar to the Christian Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

So to summarise, what we have looked earlier about Compound Time, where the beat is divided into three.

Some other examples include:

       6/8     there are 6 quavers per bar, with those 6 quavers being grouped in two groups of three.   Hence it is called compound duple time.

       6/4       is also called compound duple time, because there are 6 crotchets per bar, with those 6 crotchets being grouped in two sets of three.

       9/8      there are 9 quavers per bar, grouped in three groups of three.  Hence it is called compound triple time.

      12/8      there are 12 quavers per bar, grouped in four groups of three.    Hence it is called compound quadruple time.


In the next Reply, we have a link to another relevant Time Signature, You Tube example.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #26 on: November 03, 2019, 06:32:07 AM »
Here is a link to a Piece written and played in 6/8 time, which is found in Peters Pearls #120 - Identifying the Time Signature of a piece of music:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3509.msg12867#msg12867

The Reply 2 before that 6/8 example, contains a 3/4 example, so you can compare these two Time Signatures.

In the next Reply, here, we find a chart showing common Compound Time signatures.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #27 on: November 04, 2019, 06:20:43 AM »
Here is a chart showing common Compound Time Signatures:




You can clearly see the different classifications of Duple, Triple and Quadruple, in this chart.

In the next Reply we look at why we group these beats in different groups by comparing    3/4   and    6/8   time, for reasons that will, we hope, be helpful and become clear.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2019, 06:28:18 AM »
But what is the reason for this different way of grouping the notes in each beat in compound time?

It is because in compound time signatures, the beat is a dotted note.     
            For example a dotted minim in          6/4         or
                                a dotted crotchet in      6/8     
            rather than a minim or a crotchet in simple time signatures such as 3/2 or 3/4.

We can see how this affects the beat division if we consider the bars of 3/4 time and 6/8 time together.

   

If we count the number of quavers in a bar of   3/4    and in a bar of   6/8, the answer is the same, 6.

However, in     3/4     there are 3 crotchet beats per bar, with each beat divided into 2 quavers.

But in      6/8      there are 2 dotted crotchet beats per bar, with each beat divided into 3 quavers.

Therefore,    3/4   is simple triple time      and

                        6/8 is compound duple time.

In their music, composers have explored the variable beat produced by moving between these two time signatures, as you might have come across in the past.

You are now familiar with grouping notes within a single beat in simple time.

In a similar way beaming together quavers and semiquavers that belong to a single beat is a useful guide to help us understand compound time.

Now in compound time signatures like 6/8 the dotted crotchet, which is equivalent to three quavers, so with such a time signatures all quavers and semiquavers within a beat must be beamed in groups of 3 quavers, like this:



As you can see from this, the beat is always reflected in the beaming, with each group of beamed notes adding up to 3 quavers, which equals a dotted crotchet.

If we beamed them in groups of 2 like this



It would suggest a different time signature of 3/4 time.

Now you understand why in Compound Time we should think in terms of Divisions and not beats, because in Compound Time they are not the same thing.

In the next Reply we take at look at our 3rd classification - Complex Time Signatures.

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN

Peter Anderson

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4344
  • Plays AR 80
Re: No__119___Guide to understanding Time Signatures
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2019, 07:52:09 AM »

But first, here is a link to a piece written in 3/2 time, which is Simple Time.

Don't forget, ask yourself



recognising that this is 3/2, not 3/4, and then apply the principles outlined at the beginning of Peters Pearls No 120.

Click this link to open the Post in a new window:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3509.msg12874#msg12874

Peter
In the interest of our members
AR-Group ADMIN