Time Signature

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Songs are played to a set tempo, this tempo is measured in beats. We then group these beats into bars with our bar lines. Between each bar line there is an even amount of beats. To find out how many beats are in each bar we use what is called a time signature.

The most popular time signature is 4/4 (four - four time). This is also called common time. This tells us that there are four beats per bar. The four on the top tells you how many beats there are in one bar. The four on the bottom tells you what each beat is worth. In this case each beat is worth a quarter note.

Each one of these Ts represents your tempo (an even paced recurring beat).

T T T T T T T T T T T T T T T T T T

Then we place these Ts into groups of two, three, four, five, and six and so on.

| T T | T T T | T T T T | T T T T T | T T T T T T |

Now let’s place a quarter note under each T (remember a quarter note is worth one beat).

timesig02


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  • timesig03
  • The number on the top tells you how many beats are in the bar. In this example there are four beats in the bar. The number on the bottom tells us what each beat is worth. In this case each beat is worth a quarter note.

Now let’s place an eighth note under each T, remember an eighth note is worth half a beat.

timesig04


  • timesig05-3x1

    The example shown above is not the same as the audio examples

  • Press play to listen to a basic example of 2/4 Time

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    Press play to listen to a more interesting example of 2/4 Time

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  • timesig05-2x1

    The example shown above is not the same as the audio examples

  • Press play to listen to a basic example of 3/4 Time

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    Press play to listen to a more interesting example of 3/4 Time

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  • timesig05-1x1

    The example shown above is not the same as the audio examples

  • Press play to listen to a basic example of 4/4 Time

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    Press play to listen to a more interesting example of 4/4 Time

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Time Signature Song Examples

3/4 Time: Slim Dusty - A Pub With No Beer
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4/4 Time: Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl
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5/4 Time: John Coltrane & Dave Brubeck - Take Five
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7/4 Time: Pink Floyd - Money
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9/8 Time: Sting - I Hung My Head
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12/8 Time: Tool - Schism
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6/12 Time: Del Amitri - Nothing Ever Happens
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