Music Time Signatures

Let’s learn what music time signatures are. You’ll see them written as two numbers, one above the other. The top number tells you how many beats there are in a bar and the bottom number tells you the value of those beats. So let’s use 4 4 as an example.

4 4 time signature

OK the top number here means there are for beats in each bar, and the bottom number means that each of those beats is equal to one quarter note.

<br><br><br><br>3 4 time signature

Now lets try some others, 3 4, in this example the 3 means that there are 3 beats in each bar and that each beat is still equal to one quarter note. You’re probably starting to get the idea now.

So the bottom number shows you what value every beat is, a 4 is the same as a quarter note because there are 4 quarters in a whole and an 8 is equal to an eighth note because there are 8 eighths in a whole and so on.

common time signature

Here are some more examples for you. Common time is the same as 4 4 but often written like this.

2 4 time signature cut time signature

2 4 has 2 beats in each bar and can be written as 2 4 (example right) or cut time (example left)

6 8 time signature

Then we have 6 8 which has a 123456, 123456 feel, similar to 3 4 but usually faster. With 6 beats in each bar, every beat being equal to an eighth note.

So as you can see there are a lot of time signatures, so far we've covered the basic ones, next I'd like to take you through some of the more exotic ones that will need more explaining because of the complex groupings of rhythm. Don't move on until you understand these ones though.

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