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Encyclopedia > Time signature

The time signature (also known as "meter signature") is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and what note value constitutes one beat. Time signatures indicate meter, but do not necessarily determine it; the composer is free to write in a different meter than that indicated by the signature, so long as the music contains the correct number of beats. Metre or meter (US) is the measurement of a musical line into measures of stressed and unstressed beats, indicated in Western music notation by a symbol called a time signature. ... For this articles equivalent regarding the East, see Eastern culture. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... putang ina. ... In musical notation, a bar or measure is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. ... Parts of a note In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the color or shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags. ...

Two staves with time signature highlighted in blue
Two staves with time signature highlighted in blue

Most time signatures comprise two numbers, one above the other. In text (as in this article), time signatures are written in the manner of a fraction: the example shown at right would be written 3/4. Image File history File links Time_signature_example. ... In arithmetic, a vulgar fraction (or common fraction) consists of one integer divided by a non-zero integer. ...


In a musical score, the time signature appears at the beginning of the piece, immediately following the key signature (or immediately following the clef if the piece is in C major or A minor). A mid-score time signature, usually immediately following a barline, indicates a change of meter. This key signature – A major or F# minor – consists of three sharps placed after the clef In musical notation, a key signature is a series of sharp symbols or flat symbols placed on the staff, designating notes that are to be consistently played one semitone higher or lower than the... For other senses of this word, see clef (disambiguation). ... C major (often just C or key of C) is a musical major scale based on C, with pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C. Its key signature has no flats/sharps (see below: Diatonic Scales and Keys). ... Also see: A major, or A-sharp minor. ... In musical notation, a bar or measure is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. ...

Contents

Simple and compound time signatures

Basic time signatures: 4/4, also known as common time (C), 2/2, also known as cut time or cut-common time (¢), 2/4, 3/4 & 6/8
Basic time signatures: 4/4, also known as common time (C), 2/2, also known as cut time or cut-common time (¢), 2/4, 3/4 & 6/8

Time signatures can be "simple" or "compound". Common time signatures This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


Simple time signatures

In simple time signatures, each beat is divided into two equal parts. Typically, therefore, each beat has the value of a non-dotted note. In music, simple metre or simple time is a time signature or meter in which each beat (or rather, portion, 1/2 or 1/3 of a measure) is divided into two parts, as opposed to three which is compound meter. ...

  • the upper number indicates how many beats there are in a measure;
  • the lower number indicates the note value which represents one beat (the "beat unit").

The most common simple time signatures are 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4. The 4 at the bottom indicates that the beat unit is the quarter note or crotchet. For example, 3/4 means three quarter-note beats per measure. putang ina. ... In musical notation, a bar or measure is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. ... Parts of a note In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the color or shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags. ... In music, a quarter note (American) or crotchet is a note played for one-quarter the duration of a whole note, hence the name. ...


Notational variations in simple time

The letter "C" is sometimes used for 4/4 time, also called "common time" or "imperfect time". The symbol is derived from a broken circle used in early music, where a full circle represented 3/4 time, called "perfect time".[1] A "C" with a vertical line through it is used in place of 2/2, also known as "alla breve" or, colloquially, "cut time". It is occasionally used for 4/2, although, confusingly, some examples omit the doubling.


Compound time signatures

In compound time signatures, each main beat is divided into three equal parts. Compound time signatures are distinguished by an upper number which is commonly 6, 9 or 12. The most common lower number in a compound time signature is 8, meaning the time is beaten in eighth notes (quavers). In music, compound metre or compound time is a time signature or meter in which each beat (or rather, portion, 1/2 or 1/3 of a measure) is divided into three parts, as opposed to two which is simple meter. ...


Unlike simple time, however, compound time uses a dotted note for the beat unit. Consequently, the upper and lower numbers in compound time signatures do not represent the number of beats per bar and the beat unit. Example 1. ...


Interpreting compound time signatures

The upper and lower numbers in compound time signatures need to be treated as follows:

  • To determine the number of beats per bar, divide the upper number by three. For example, in 6/8, there are 2 beats per measure. The pulse in a compound 6/8 will have two dotted quarter-note (crotchet) beats, and each beat will subdivide into a group of three eighth notes.
  • To identify the "beat unit" (i.e. which type of note represents one beat), multiply the note value represented by the lower number by three. In 6/8, the lower number (8) represents the note value of an eighth note. Multiplying that note value by three gives a unit of a dotted quarter note, or 3 eighth notes.

For example, 12/8 time would be counted: One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve. Parts of a note In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the color or shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags. ...


In compound time, the beat unit is always a dotted note value. The most common compound time signatures are 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8, denoting two, three and four dotted quarter note beats per bar. Parts of a note In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the color or shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags. ...


Beat and time

Time signatures indicating two beats per bar (whether simple or compound) are called duple time; those with three beats to the bar are triple time. To the ear, a bar may seem like one singular beat. For example, in some fast waltzes, which are most commonly in 3/4 time, The term single time may be used. Terms such as quadruple (4), quintuple (5), and so on are also occasionally used.


Most frequent time signatures

Simple time signatures
4/4 common time: widely used in most forms of Western classical and popular music.
2/2 alla breve, cut time: used for marches and fast orchestral music. Frequently occurs in musical theater. Sometimes called "in 2".
4/2 common in early music; rarer since 1600, although Brahms and other composers used it occasionally.
2/4 used for polkas or marches
3/4 used for waltzes, minuets, scherzi, and country & western ballads.
Compound time signatures
6/8 double jigs, fast waltzes, marches and some rock music.
9/8 "compound triple time", used in triple ("slip") jigs, otherwise occurring rarely (The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Ride of the Valkyries are some familiar examples)
12/8 classical music; also common in slower blues and doo-wop, also used more recently in rock music.

A march, as a musical genre, is a piece of music with a strong regular rhythm which in origin was expressly written for marching to and most frequently performed by a military band. ... Musical theater (or theatre) is a form of theatre combining music, songs, dance, and spoken dialogue. ... Street musicians in Prague playing a polka Polka is a fast, lively Central European dance, and also a genre of dance music. ... A march, as a musical genre, is a piece of music with a strong regular rhythm which in origin was expressly written for marching to and most frequently performed by a military band. ... A section from Johann Strauss Waltz from Die Fledermaus For other uses, see Waltz (disambiguation). ... A minuet, sometimes spelled menuet, is a social dance of French origin for two persons, usually in 3/4 time. ... A scherzo (plural scherzi) is a name given to a piece of music or a movement from a larger piece such as a symphony. ... The jig (sometimes seen in its French language or Italian language forms gigue or giga) is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type, popular in Ireland and Scotland. ... A waltz (German: , Italian: , French: , Spanish: , Catalan: ) is a ballroom and folk dance in   time, done primarily in closed position. ... This article is about music. ... For the childrens T.V series, see The Sorcerers Apprentice (TV series). ... Arthur Rackhams illustration to the Ride of the Valkyries The Ride of the Valkyries (German: Walkürenritt) is the popular term for the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre by Richard Wagner. ... Blues music redirects here. ... Doo-wop is a style of vocal-based rhythm and blues music popular in the mid-1950s to the early 1960s in America. ...

Complex time signatures

Signatures which do not fit into the usual duple or triple categories are known as complex, asymmetric, or irregular, although these are broad terms, and usually a more specific description is appropriate. Most often these can be recognised by the upper number being 5, 7, or another, larger, prime number. The earliest examples of irregular signatures are found in instrumental music by Giovanni Valentini (1582-1649) and Anton Reicha (1770-1836), written in 5/4, 9/8, etc. Although these more complex meters were common in non-Western music, they were rarely used in formal written Western music until the late 19th century . The waltz-like second movement of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony (premiered in 1893) is one of the more famous examples of 5/4. Examples from the 20th century include Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War," (5/4) from the orchestral suite The Planets, and the ending of Stravinsky's Firebird (7/4); examples from the Western popular music tradition include "Money" (7/4), from the progressive rock band Pink Floyd, popular grunge band Soundgarden's "Outshined" (7/4), as well as grunge band Alice In Chains' "Them Bones" (7/8 in the verse and 4/4 in the chorus), American death metal band Nile's "Sacrifice Unto Sebek" (Alternating between 11/8 and 7/8), Canadian rock band April Wine's "Say Hello" (6/4), Radioheads "15 Step" (5/4)and "2+2=5" (7/8 then 4/4)and popular alternative rock band Incubus' "Make Yourself" (7/4 followed by two bars of 4/4). The jazz composition "Take Five", written in 5/4 time, was one of a number of irregular-meter experiments of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, which also produced compositions in 11/4 ("Eleven Four"), 7/4 ("Unsquare Dance"), and 9/8 ("Blue Rondo a la Turk"), expressed as 2+2+2+3/8, this last being a good example of a work in a signature which, despite appearing merely compound triple, is actually more complex. In mathematics, a prime number (or a prime) is a natural number which has exactly two distinct natural number divisors: 1 and itself. ... Giovanni Valentini (c. ... Anton Reichas monument at Père Lachaise, Paris Anton (or Antonin or Antoine) Reicha (or Rejcha) (February 26, 1770 – May 28, 1836) was a Czech-born naturalized French composer, a flautist in his youth, and an influential theorist. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... A waltz (German: , Italian: , French: , Spanish: , Catalan: ) is a ballroom and folk dance in   time, done primarily in closed position. ... “Tchaikovsky” redirects here. ... Excerpt from the fourth movement of Tchaikovskys Pathetique Symphony. ... Year 1893 (MDCCCXCIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Gustav Holst Gustav Holst (September 21, 1874, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire - May 25, 1934, London) [1] [2] was an English composer and was a music teacher for over 20 years. ... This page is about the orchestral suite by Gustav Holst. ... Igor Stravinsky. ... The Firebird (French: LOiseau de feu; Russian: Жар-птица, Žar-ptica) is a 1910 ballet by Igor Stravinsky. ... Alternate cover Cover of the singles 2003 re-issue (which coincided with the release of the albums 30th anniversary SACD re-issue) The Dark Side of the Moon Tracks Speak to Me (1:08) Breathe (2:48) On the Run (3:31) Time / Breathe (Reprise) (7:04) The... Pink Floyd are an English rock band that initially earned recognition for their psychedelic rock music, and, as they evolved, for their progressive rock music. ... Soundgarden was an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1984. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... This article is about the grunge band. ... Them Bones is the first song from the Alice in Chains album Dirt. ... Nile is a brutal / technical death metal band from Greenville, South Carolina, USA assembled in 1993. ... April Wine is a Canadian rock band formed in 1969. ... Radiohead are an English rock band. ... Incubus is a five-piece American alternative rock band based out of Calabasas, California. ... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ... This article is about Dave Brubeck Quartet jazz piece. ... David Warren Brubeck (born December 6, 1920 in Concord, California[1]), better known as Dave Brubeck, is a U.S. jazz pianist. ...


It should be pointed out that such time signatures are only considered "unusual" from a Western point of view. In contrast, for example, Bulgarian dances use such meters extensively, including forms with 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 22, 25 and other numbers of beats per measure. These rhythms are notated as additive rhythms based on simple units, usually 1, 2, 3 and 4 beats, though the notation fails to describe the metric "time bending" taking place; or as compound meters, for example the Bulgarian Sedi Donka, consisting of 25 beats divided 7+7+11, where 7 = 3+2+2 and 11 = 2+2+3+2+2 or 4+3+4. See Variants below. Bulgarian folk dances are intimately related to the music of Bulgaria. ... Particularly, this article is not about Hymn meters, as often found on hymn tunes Meter (UK spelling: metre) is the measurement of a musical line into measures of stressed and unstressed beats, indicated in Western music notation by a symbol called a time signature. ... In music, compound meter, (chiefly British variation) compound metre, or compound time, is a time signature or meter in which each measure is divided into three or more parts, or two uneven parts (as opposed to two even parts, called simple metre), calling for the measures to be played with... The time signature (also known as meter signature) is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each bar and what note value constitutes one beat. ...


For more examples, see List of works in unusual time signatures. Some examples of musical compositions or pieces in Western music which have unusual time signatures, listed by signature and year released, are: // 5/4 or 5/8 also known as quintuple meter (c. ...


Mixed meters

While time signatures usually express a regular pattern of beat stresses continuing through a piece (or at least a section), sometimes composers place a different time signature at the beginning of each bar, resulting in music with an extremely irregular rhythmic feel. In this case the time signatures are an aid to the performers, not an indication of meter. The Promenade from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is a good example: Particularly, this article is not about Hymn meters, as often found on hymn tunes Meter (UK spelling: metre) is the measurement of a musical line into measures of stressed and unstressed beats, indicated in Western music notation by a symbol called a time signature. ... Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (Моде́ст Петро́вич Му́соргский) (March 21, 1839 – March 28, 1881; sometimes spelt Modeste Moussorgsky), was an innovative Russian composer famed for his colourful... Mussorgsky in 1874 This article refers to the original suite by Modest Mussorgsky. ...

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition "Promenade"

Burt Bacharach's rhythmically exciting song "Promises, Promises" likewise features a constantly changing meter. Download high resolution version (885x170, 8 KB)Modest Mussorgskys Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade, chords Created by Hyacinth using Sibelius and Paint. ... This biographical article needs additional references for verification. ...


Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is famous for its "savage" rhythms: Igor Stravinsky. ... The Rite of Spring, commonly referred to by its original French title, Le Sacre du printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svjaščennaja) is a ballet with music by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, which was first performed in 1913. ...

Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, "Sacrificial Dance"

Some composers (and even Hymnals) simply omit the time signature in such cases. Many songs in Bertolt Brecht's plays also follow this convention. Download high resolution version (884x220, 13 KB)Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Sacrificial Dance. Created by Hyacinth using Sibelius and Paint. ... See also hymn - a program to decrypt iTunes music files. ... {{dy justified his choice of form, and from about 1929 on he began to interpret its penchant for contradictions, much as had Eisenstein, in terms of the dialectic. ...


Some pieces have no time signature, as there is no discernible rhythm. This is commonly known as free time. Sometimes one is provided (usually 4/4) so that the performer finds the piece easier to read, and simply has 'free time' written as a direction. Sometimes the word FREE is written downwards on the stave to indicate the piece is in free time. Erik Satie wrote many compositions which are ostensibly in free time, but actually follow an unstated and unchanging simple time signature throughout. Later composers have made more effective use of this device, writing music which is almost devoid of any discernable regularity of pulse. Free time is simply a musical term that incorporates no distinct time signature. ... Selfportrait of Erik Satie. ...


If two time signatures alternate repeatedly, sometimes the two signatures will be placed together at the beginning of the piece or section, as in this example, the chorus from the song "America" from West Side Story: in this case, it alternates between 6/8 (in two) in the first measure of each pair and 3/4 (in three) in the second measure. This article is about the musical. ...


In popular music, British band Radiohead's "Pyramid Song" features the signature 3/4-2/4-3/4 | 3/4-2/4-3/4, an unusual occurrence in its context. Radiohead are an English rock band. ...

Image:alternating time signatures2.gif

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

Variants

Additive meters

To indicate more complex patterns of stresses, such as additive rhythms, more complex time signatures can be used. For example, the signature Additive rhythms are larger periods of time constructed from sequences of smaller rhythmic units added to the end of the previous unit. ...

which can be written 3+2+3/8, means that the first of a group of three eighth notes (quavers) is to be stressed, then the first of a group of two, then first of a group of three again. The stress pattern is usually counted as one-two-three-one-two-one-two-three. This kind of time signature is commonly used to notate folk and non-Western types of music. In classical music, Béla Bartók and Olivier Messiaen have used such time signatures in their works. Additive time signature 3+2+3/8 This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ... Bartok redirects here. ... Olivier Messiaen It has been suggested that List of students of Olivier Messiaen be merged into this article or section. ...


Romanian musicologist Constantin Brăiloiu had a special interest in compound time signatures, developed while studying the traditional music of certain regions in his country. While investigating the origins of such unusual meters, he learned that they were even more characteristic of the traditional music of neighboring peoples (e.g. the Bulgarians). He suggested that such timings can be regarded as compounds of simple two-beat and three-beat meters, where an accent falls on every first beat, even though, for example in Bulgarian music, beat lengths of 1, 2, 3, 4 are used in the metric description. In addition, when focusing only on the stressed beats, the simple time signatures themselves will count as beats in the compound time. There will be two kinds of beats with the resulting compound time, of which the simple "three-beat" will be fairly longer than the "two-beat". A musicologist is someone who studies musicology. ... Romania is a European country whose population consists mainly (approx. ... Bulgarian folk dances are intimately related to the music of Bulgaria. ...


Folk music may make use of metric time bends, so that the proportions of the performed metric beat time lengths differ from the exact proportions indicated by the metric. Depending on playing style of the same meter, the time bend can vary from non-existent to considerable; in the latter case, some musicologists may want to assign a different meter. For example, the Bulgarian tune Eleno Mome is written as 7=2+2+1+2, 13=4+4+2+3, 12=3+4+2+3, but an actual performance (e.g. Smithsonian Eleno Mome) may be closer to 4+4+2+3.5. The Macedonian 3+2+2+3+2 meter is even more complicated, with heavier time bends, and the use of quadruples on the threes; the metric beat time proportions may vary with the speed the tune is being played. In Western classical music, metric time bend is used in the performance of the Viennese Waltz. Most Western music uses metric ratios of 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1 (two-, three- or four-beat time signatures) — in other words, integer ratios which determine all beats to be of equal time length; so relative to that, 3:2 and 4:3 ratios corresponds to a very distinctive metric rhythm profiles — complex accentuation is used in Western music, but not as a part of the metric accentuation, instead viewed as syncopation. Bulgarian folk dances are intimately related to the music of Bulgaria. ... Levendikos Is a dance from Macedonia in Greece - mainly danced in the western side of Macedonia in the town of Florina. ... Viennese Waltz (German: Wiener Walzer ) is the name of a ballroom dance. ... In music, syncopation is when a stressing of a normally unstressed beat in a bar or failure to sound a tone on an accented beat occurs. ...


Brăiloiu borrowed a term from Turkish medieval music theory: aksak (Turkish for "crippled"). Such compound time signatures fall under the aksak rhythm category that he introduced along with a couple more that should describe the rhythm figures in traditional music. [2](Aksak is sometimes spelled as aksaac, because there isn't an exact transliteration from medieval Turkish into Latin alphabet.) The term Brăiloiu revived had a moderate success worldwide, but in Eastern Europe it is still frequently used. However, aksak rhythm figures are to be found not only in a few European countries, but on all continents, featuring various combinations of the "two" and "three" sequences. Yet the longest were found in Bulgaria; the shortest aksak rhythm figures would be the five-beat timing, comprising a "two" and a "three" (which can be also ordered as "three" followed by the "two").


Other variants

Some composers have used fractional beats: for example, the time signature 2½/4 appears in Carlos Chávez's Sonata No. 3 (1928) IV, m. 1. Carlos Chávez photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1937 Carlos Antonio de Padua Chávez y Ramírez (June 13, 1899 – August 2, 1978) was a Mexican composer, conductor, teacher, journalist, and the founder and director of the Mexican Symphonic Orchestra. ...

Example of Orff's time signatures
Example of Orff's time signatures

Music educator Carl Orff proposed replacing the lower number of the time signature with the actual note value, as shown at right. This system eliminates the need for compound time signatures (described above), which are confusing to beginners. While this notation has not been adopted by music publishers generally (except in Orff's own compositions), it is used extensively in music education textbooks. Similarly, American composers George Crumb and Joseph Schwantner, among others, have used this system in many of their works. Orff time signatures This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ... Carl Orff Carl Orff (July 10, 1895) – March 29, 1982) was a 20th-century German composer, most famous for Carmina Burana (1937). ... George Crumb (born October 24, 1929) is an American composer of modern and avant garde music. ... Joseph Schwantner (b. ...


Another possibility is to extend the barline where a time change is to take place above the top instrument's line in a score and to write the time signature there, and there only, saving the ink and effort that would have been spent writing it in each instrument's staff. Henryk Górecki's Beatus Vir is an example of this. Alternatively, music in a large score sometimes has time signatures written as very long, thin numbers covering the whole height of the score rather than replicating it on each staff; this is an aid to the conductor, who can see signature changes more easily. Henryk Górecki. ...


"Irrational" meters

These are time signatures which have a denominator which is not a power of two (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.). These are used to express the division of a whole note (semibreve) into equal parts just as ordinary signatures do. For example, where 4/4 implies a bar construction of four quarter-parts of a whole note (i.e., four quarter notes), 4/3 implies a bar construction of four third-parts of it. These signatures are only of utility when juxtaposed with other signatures with varying denominators; a piece written entirely in 4/3, say, could be more legibly written out in 4/4. A denominator is a name. ... Figure 1. ...


It is arguable whether the use of these signatures makes metric relationships clearer or more obscure to the musician; it is always possible to write a passage using non-"irrational" signatures by specifying a relationship between some note length in the previous bar and some other in the succeeding one. Sometimes, successive metric relationships between bars are so convoluted that the pure use of irrational signatures would quickly render the notation extremely hard to penetrate. Good examples, written entirely in conventional signatures with the aid of between-bar specified metric relationships, occur a number of times in John Adams' opera Nixon in China (1987), where the sole use of "irrational" signatures would quickly produce massive numerators and denominators. For the Alaska-based postminimalist composer, see John Luther Adams. ... Promotional flier for the Nixon in China opera. ...


Historically, this device has been prefigured wherever composers have written tuplets; for example, a 2/4 bar consisting of 3 triplet crotchets could arguably more sensibly be written as a bar of 3/6. Henry Cowell's piano piece "Fabric" (1920) throughout employs separate divisions of the bar (anything from 1 to 9) for the three contrapuntal parts, using a scheme of shaped noteheads to make the differences visually clear, but the pioneering of these signatures is largely due to Brian Ferneyhough. Thomas Adès has also made extensive use of them, for example in his piano work "Traced Overhead" (1996), the second movement of which contains, among more conventional meters, bars in such signatures as 2/6, 9/14 and 5/24. A gradual process of diffusion into less rarefied musical circles seems to be underway, hence for example, John Pickard's work "Eden", commissioned for the 2006 finals of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, which contains bars of 3/10. In music a tuplet is any consecutive group of notes with an individual value more or less than half as long as the next larger note value. ... Henry Cowell (March 11, 1897 – December 10, 1965) was an American composer, musical theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario. ... A short grand piano, with the lid up. ... Counterpoint is a very general feature of music (especially prominent in much Western music) whereby two or more melodic strands occur simultaneously - in separate voices, either literally or metaphorically (if the music is instrumental). ... // Brian John Peter Ferneyhough (born 16 January 1943 in Coventry) is an English composer. ... Thomas Adès (born in London, 1 March 1971) is a British composer. ...


Notationally, rather than using Cowell's elaborate series of notehead shapes, the same convention has been invoked as when normal tuplets are written; for example, one beat in 4/5 is written as a normal quarter note, four quarter notes complete the bar, but the whole bar lasts only 4/5 of a reference whole note, and a beat 1/5 of one (or 4/5 of a normal quarter note). This is notated in exactly the same way that one would write if one were writing the first four quarter notes of five quintuplet quarter notes. Figure 1. ...


The appropriateness of the term "irrational" is moot; an irrational number is one that cannot be written as a ratio of whole numbers, a rational number is one that can. By definition, these signatures are far better represented by the concept of rationality than irrationality. Nevertheless, the term appears to be established now, and the only potential problem is that of nomenclature should someone write a piece with a proportion such as the square root of 2 involved in a signature; a further hyperbolism would be necessary to describe these. In fact, at least one such piece already exists; one of Conlon Nancarrow's "Studies for Player Piano" contains a canon where one part is augmented in the ratio sqrt(42):1. In mathematics, an irrational number is any real number that is not a rational number — that is, it is a number which cannot be expressed as a fraction m/n, where m and n are integers, with n non-zero. ... Conlon Nancarrow (October 27, 1912 - August 10, 1997) was an American composer who took Mexican citizenship in 1955. ...


Stress and meter

For all meters, the first beat (the downbeat, ignoring any anacrusis) is usually stressed (though not always, for example in reggae where the offbeats are stressed); in time signatures with four groups in the bar (such as 4/4 and 12/8), the third beat is often also stressed, though to a lesser degree. This gives a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed beats, although notes on the "stressed" beats are not necessarily louder or more important. Downbeat can have several meanings: // In Music Theory In music performance and music theory, the downbeat is also the first beat of a measure in music. ... In poetry, anacrusis is the lead-in syllables that precede the first full measure, while, similarly, in music, it is the note or notes (even a phrase) which precede the first downbeat in a group. ... Reggae is a music genre developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. ... In music a back beat (also called the, or a, backbeat) is a term applied to the beats 2 and 4 in a 4/4 bar or a 12/8 bar [1] as opposed to the odd downbeat, (quarter beat 1). ...


Rewriting meters

There is a sense in which all simple triple time signatures, be they 3/8, 3/4, 3/2 or anything else, and all compound duple times, such as 6/8, 6/16 and so on, are equivalent – a piece in 3/4 can be easily rewritten in 3/8 simply by halving the length of the notes. Sometimes, the choice of beat unit is simply down to tradition: the minuet, for example, is generally written in 3/4, and though examples in 3/8 do exist, a minuet in 3/2 would be highly unconventional. A minuet, sometimes spelled menuet, is a social dance of French origin for two persons, usually in 3/4 time. ...


At other times, the choice of beat unit (the bottom number of a time signature) note can give subtle hints as to the character of the music: for example, time signatures with a longer beat unit (such as 3/2) can be used for pieces in a quick tempo to convey a sense of the time flying by. This may be counter-intuitive, but in the Baroque and Classical periods, typically meters with long note values (such as 3/2) were fast tempos, while slow movements were typically written with the eighth note as the beat. Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750. ... The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1730 through 1820, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ...


Similarly, a piece in 2/4 can often sound as if it is in 4/4 (or vice versa) and a piece in 3/4 can sound as if it is in 6 or 12 compound time, particularly if the former is played quickly or the latter slowly. The distinction may be a matter of notation.


Early music usage

Mensural time signatures

In the 15th and 16th centuries, a period in which mensural notation was used, there were four basic time signatures, which determined the proportion between the two main units of rhythm. There were no measures or barlines in music of this period; these signs, the ancestors of modern time signatures, indicate the ratio of duration between different note values. The relation between the breve and the semibreve was called tempus, and the relation between the semibreve and the minim was called prolatio. Unlike modern notation, the duration ratios between these different values was not always 2:1; it could be either 2:1 or 3:1, and that is what these mensural signatures indicated. A ratio of 3:1 was called complete, perhaps a reference to the Trinity, and a ratio of 2:1 was called incomplete. Menstrual notation is the musical notation system which was used from the later part of the 13th century until about 1600. ... In musical notation, a bar or measure is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. ... In musical notation, a bar or measure is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. ... A duration is an amount of time or a particular time interval. ... Parts of a note In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the color or shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags. ... Various breve notations A double whole note or breve is a note in music, lasting twice as long as a whole note (or semibreve). ... Figure 1. ... Figure 1. ... In music, a half note (American) or minim is a note played for one half the duration of a whole note, hence the name. ... This article is about the Christian Trinity. ...


A circle used as a time signature indicated tempus perfectum (a circle being a symbol of completeness), while an incomplete circle, resembling a letter C, indicated tempus imperfectum. Assuming the breve to be a beat, this corresponds to the modern concepts of triple meter and duple meter, respectively. In either case, a dot in the center indicated prolatio perfecta while the absence of such a dot indicated prolatio imperfecta, corresponding to simple meter and compound meter. Metre or meter (US) is the measurement of a musical line into measures of stressed and unstressed beats, indicated in Western music notation by a symbol called a time signature. ... Metre or meter (US) is the measurement of a musical line into measures of stressed and unstressed beats, indicated in Western music notation by a symbol called a time signature. ... Metre or meter (US) is the measurement of a musical line into measures of stressed and unstressed beats, indicated in Western music notation by a symbol called a time signature. ... Metre or meter (US) is the measurement of a musical line into measures of stressed and unstressed beats, indicated in Western music notation by a symbol called a time signature. ...


A rough equivalence of these signs to modern meters would be:

  • corresponds to 9/8 meter
  • corresponds to 3/4 meter
  • corresponds to 6/8 meter
  • corresponds to 2/4 meter

N.B. in modern compound meters the beat is a dotted note value, such as a dotted quarter, because the ratios of the modern note value hierarchy are always 2:1. Dotted notes were never used in this way in the mensural period; the main beat unit was always a simple (undotted) note value. Image File history File links Mensural_time_signature_1. ... Image File history File links Mensural_time_signature_2. ... Image File history File links Mensural_time_signature_3. ... Image File history File links Mensural_time_signature_4. ...


Proportions

Another set of signs in mensural notation specified the metric proportions of one section to another, similar to a metric modulation. A few common signs are shown: Menstrual notation is the musical notation system which was used from the later part of the 13th century until about 1600. ... In music a metric modulation is a change (modulation) from one time signature/tempo (meter) to another, wherein a note value from the first is made equivalent to a note value in the second, like a pivot. ...

  • Image:mensural proportion1.gif 1:2 proportion (twice as fast)
  • Image:mensural proportion2.gif 1:3 proportion (three times as fast)
  • 2:3 proportion (similar to triplets)

Often the ratio was expressed as two numbers, one above the other, looking similar to a modern time signature, although it could have values such as 4/3, which a time signature could not. mensural time signature This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ... mensural time signature This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ... mensural time signature This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


There is still controversy regarding the meaning of some proportional signs, and they may not have been used consistently from one place or century to another. In addition, certain composers delighted in creating "puzzle" compositions which were intentionally difficult to decipher.


In particular, when the sign Image:mensural proportion1.gif was encountered, the tactus (beat) changed from the usual semibreve to the breve, a circumstance called alla breve. This term has been sustained to the present day, and although now it means the beat is a minim (half note), in contradiction to the literal meaning of the phrase, it still indicates that the beat has changed to a longer note value. mensural time signature This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ... Figure 1. ... Various breve notations A double whole note or breve is a note in music, lasting twice as long as a whole note (or semibreve). ... A minim is: Minim (music) - a note length, another name for a half note. ...


In the 17th century, additional signs such as also indicated proportions like this. mensural time signature This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


See also

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Listed here are musical compositions or pieces in Western music that have unusual time signatures. ... Schaffel (from a German word meaning shuffle) is a term used to describe a trend in progressive electronic music in which the time signatures are built in variations of 6/8, 12/8, 3/4, or 4/4 triplet feels. ... For the Swedish political music movement, see progg. ... In Indian classical music, Tala (tāl (Hindi), tāla (anglicised from talam; in Sanskrit), literally a clap, is a rhythmical pattern that determines the rhythmical structure of a composition. ...

References

  1. ^ Holmes, G. Augustus (January 1949). The Academic Manual of the Rudiments of Music. London: A. Weeks & Co. Ltd., 17. 
  2. ^ *Oprea, Gheorghe (2002). Musical Folklore in Romania. ISBN 973-42-0304-5.

Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ...

External links

  • Grateful Dead songs with unusual time signatures (Grateful Dead)
  • Odd Time Obsessed Internet Radio - dedicated to "odd" meters

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