What Does Time Signature Mean In Music Terms?


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Mark Henderson Profile
Mark Henderson answered
Time signature is also known as 'meter signature'. In Western Classical music, time signatures are a notational convention. This term is used to specify the number of beats in each bar and the note value of one beat.

Mostly, time signatures consist of two numbers, one on top of the other, and time signatures appear at the beginning of the piece in a musical score. To indicate a change of meter, a mid-score time signature immediately follows a barline.

There are simple and compound time signatures. In a simple time signature, the upper number indicates the number of beats there are in a bar. The lower number indicates the note value - which represents one single beat (also known as the beat unit).

The most commonly used time signatures are 2/4, 3/4, 4/4. A semicircle is sometimes used to indicate a 4/4 time signature which can also be called common time or imperfect time.
Examples of Time Signatures
- 4/4 : Common time, widely used in all genres of western pop music. Indicates 4 quarter notes (crotchets) per bar.

- 4/2 : Rarely used in classical music since 1600. Each beat is worth a half note (minim) with four beats in the bar.

- 2/4 : Used in marches or polkas. Two beats in a bar, each beat is a quarter note (crotchet).

- 3/4 : Most commonly used in waltzes but has also been used in western ballads, Rhythm and Blues and sometimes pop. Indicates three beats per bar with each beat worth a quarter note (crotchet).

- 12/8 : Used in slow blues, shuffles and sometimes rock music. Twelve beats are in the bar with each beat worth an eighth note (quaver).
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Top number tells how many beats in a measure, and the bottom number tells what note is being played or is going to be played.

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