# The X/Y Signature Is Supposed To Set The Beat, But It Always Seems To Be The Quarter?

Well, as far as I was told, and from what I've read, the time signature's lower number (the "denominator") is supposed to notate what note value "got the beat", or something.

Well, the tempo itself, as a form of Beats-Per-Minutes, has a defined value (so if the tempo is 60, each beat would last for one second).

But, at least from tests I did with Guitar Pro, it doesn't seem like changing the time signature affects by any way the rhythm.

A simple example: By logic, if "the beat" is "given" to the denominator, and I've used a 8/8 time signature (instead of the common 4/4) with a tempo of 60, the eigth-note is supposed to have the value of one beat, and in a more sensible manner - Last for one second each.

But yet, if I set this time signature, for example, all it does is changing the division used for the value of each measure. The quarter is still playing exactly the same as the beat (i.e. each quarter spans over one second).

Maybe I didn't get a correct explanation and the quarter always spans like the beat?
The beat of the metronome is given by the denominator, but the "beat" in the tempo is always, as you already suspected, a quarter note.
In fact, in Guitar Pro, and in most music sheets, the tempo is shown with a quarter note next to the tempo.
In fact, in Guitar Pro, and in most music sheets, the tempo is shown with a quarter note next to the tempo.

In most professional sheet music (that's music edited by a professional, not music meant only for professionals) the tempo marking will be given to whatever the beat actually is.

So if it is in 4/4 the tempo marking will have crotchet = 120 but if it is in 2/2 it will have minim = 80. And in 6/8 it will have dotted crotchet = 100 because the dotted crotchet is the beat (not the quaver!).

TS, the beat is not always given in crotchets (quater notes) it's just that Guitar Pro isn't programmed correctly. If you use notation software such as sibelius, which is designed with more classical compositions in mind it will state the tempo in relation to whatever note actually has the beat.

Also, do you know that the beat is not always the denominator?
Last edited by 12345abcd3 at Dec 30, 2009,
Right... I didn't notice that.

But what do you mean by "The beat of the metronome is given by the denominator"?

What denominator for the metronome? You just set the tempo of the metronome (as in guitar pro), as far as I know, and that's it.

And all of that dotted thing... I think that it's supposed to be about an uncommon time signature, not the beat assignment (well, changing the beat assignment would just change the tempo so it's not really about the rhythm. You can basically use a slower tempo when the quarter is the beat and get the same result as if it was originally with the eighth as the beat).

"other noobs"?
I just asked about something that didn't fit with the information I was given.
Quote by UserN123
Right... I didn't notice that.

But what do you mean by "The beat of the metronome is given by the denominator"?

What denominator for the metronome? You just set the tempo of the metronome (as in guitar pro), as far as I know, and that's it.

As far as I know in guitar pro you just put in 120 bpm and it provides the click (that's correct isn't it? Exactly the same as a metronome?). By 120bpm in guitar pro (or on your metronome) it just means it will click twice every second.

Your job is to know what value the beat has. So if you are playing something in 4/4 where the crotchet = 120 then each click will equal one crotchet. If you are playing something in 2/2 where a minim = 120 then every click will signify one minim, and there will be two crotchets per click.

Quote by UserN123
And all of that dotted thing... I think that it's supposed to be about an uncommon time signature, not the beat assignment (well, changing the beat assignment would just change the tempo so it's not really about the rhythm. You can basically use a slower tempo when the quarter is the beat and get the same result as if it was originally with the eighth as the beat).

Most time signatures where:
-the top number is divisible by three and
-the bottom number is eight
will be a compound time signatures.

This means that instead of the lower number being the beat, the beat will actually occur on every third value of the lower number.

For example, in 6/8 there won't be eight quaver beats per bar, there will only be two dotted crotchets per bar. Something written in 6/8 will be indistinguishable from the same thing written in 2/4 (using triplets etc.). However, if is was written in 3/4 it would sound different because there would be 3 beats in the bar not 2.

The same thing happens for any other time signature that fits the description above. In 9/8 there are 3 beats, in 12/8 there are 4 beats.

Quote by UserN123
"other noobs"?
I just asked about something that didn't fit with the information I was given.

I don't think it was personal, he was just trying to be nice. He was saying it about himself more than anything.
Guy above me's spot on. Also, eighth notes will usually get the tempo marker (eighth note=60, for example) for uneven time signitures like 7/8. But the beat is actually a mixture of the note groupings used. Like for 7/8, the beats per measure could be dotted quarter, quarter, quarter.
the tempo or click will be the same speed no matter what time signature you put in. what changes is how you count it.

say the metronome is at 120 bpm. no matter the time signature it will click twice per second.

now in 4/4 it's 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

but in 7/4 it would be 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

the clicks don't change, the timing does.
Bpm = Beats per minute
In the time signature..........3/4, 4/4, 6/8....etc...means,
(Top number) = Number of beats per measure
(Bottom number) = What note value is equal to one beat.
Afterhouse: That's exactly what was just said it's not.
The bottom number is just like a mathematical equation's denominator. With the numerator, it indicates what "rhythmic value" each bar got.

The4thHorsemen: I know how the metronome beats, but there should be an indicator that tells you what note gets the beat as from these explanations that I didn't know of (it does seem like Guitar Pro always uses quarther=beat).

12345abcd3: Thanks for the explanation, but you explained more about the uncommon time singature and I didn't really understand something about "The Beat" thing.

If you say for example, that in a 12/8 time signature there are 4 beats (indicating 4 dotted crotchets (=3 eighths), I guess?), it means that the beat itself is ALWAYS given to the dotted crotchet or that it's the common way of using this time signature but that it's not a strict rule?
In pretty much any case of 12/8 you will see there will be four dotted crotchet beats. Similarly, whenever you see 6/8 there will be 2 beats and whenever you see 9/8 there will be 3 beats.
Quote by UserN123
Well, as far as I was told, and from what I've read, the time signature's lower number (the "denominator") is supposed to notate what note value "got the beat", or something.

Yes that is correct. If you read a "4" in the denominator, then each beat is the length of one quarter note. If you read an "8" In the denominator, then each beat is the length of one eighth note. And so on with 16, 32, 64, etc...

Quote by UserN123
Well, the tempo itself, as a form of Beats-Per-Minutes, has a defined value

Correct.
Quote by UserN123
(so if the tempo is 60, each beat would last for one second).

Incorrect. 60 what? 60 bananas? 60 vehicles? 60 is a very arbitrary number. A value must be associated with 60 in order to correctly understand the tempo. For example:

and

both are the same duration. Picture 1 shows that the tempo is marked for each quarter note = 60. This is an essential identification you must observe. Picture number 2 shows that each eighth note = 60. Without the number 60 being assigned a note-length value, it is nothing more than an arbitrary number.

Quote by UserN123
A simple example: By logic, if "the beat" is "given" to the denominator, and I've used a 8/8 time signature (instead of the common 4/4) with a tempo of 60, the eigth-note is supposed to have the value of one beat, and in a more sensible manner - Last for one second each.

Guitar Pro is recognizing the BPM in quarter notes (quarter note = 60, Picture 1). 8/8 and 4/4 are the same exact thing for Guitar Pro because 8 eighth notes = 4 quarter notes in duration. Example:

Notice in this example how Guitar Pro displays it's tempo as quarter note = 120? That means only the quarter note lengths receive this value. I don't think Guitar Pro has an ability to change the note length value for tempo. But this is an essential piece of information you must observe when using Guitar Pro's tempo utility.
Quote by UserN123
Maybe I didn't get a correct explanation and the quarter always spans like the beat?

Just a simple misunderstanding. Remember that if the tempo marker is just a number without an assigned note duration... then that's all it is. A number. That doesn't tell you much.
Actually they just said how to beat doesn't have to be the same as the denominator, but maybe it's just in uncommon times and in regular times it's (at least usually) the same as the denominator? (for example; 8/8, 8th=120)

But anyway - Guitar Pro really always use quarther as the beat and that why it doesn't really change and I didn't understand what should it actually do.

But you're wrong about that "no value" thing. Again: If each beat is a part of the Beats-Per-Minute value, it would last exactly that number/60's part of a second (as each minute contains 60 seconds).

And then, if the beat of 120BPM is given to the quarter you could just say that the quarter lasts for half a second (2 quarters per second). The beat itself would have that value anyway, so even if you would use it in a 6/8 and you use dotted crotchets as 12345abcd3 demonstrated, the dotted crotchets would get the same value of the beat (but again, the beat has a defined value).
Last edited by UserN123 at Jan 8, 2010,
Quote by UserN123
But you're wrong about that "no value" thing.

Chump don't want no help, chump don't get no help.

Quote by UserN123
Afterhouse: That's exactly what was just said it's not.
The bottom number is just like a mathematical equation's denominator. With the numerator, it indicates what "rhythmic value" each bar got.

You're sure trying to make something that's pretty straight forward and simple into something much more complicated than necessary.

Go and get a regular metronome (mechanical or digital), not the one in Guitar Pro...........set a time signature 4/4, 3/4, 6/8.....or whatever you want......then run it for a few measures, then press the button to increase the tempo. I bet the beat count gets faster huh?

That's because you're increasing the BPM count to the designated note value, which is the bottom number.
Last edited by Afterhours at Jan 4, 2010,
Quote by Zaphikh
Yes that is correct. If you read a "4" in the denominator, then each beat is the length of one quarter note. If you read an "8" In the denominator, then each beat is the length of one eighth note. And so on with 16, 32, 64, etc...

The is only the case for simple meters. For compound meters such as 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8, the beat is three times the lowest note. So in these cases there would be two, three and four dotted crotchet beats.
You're a "chump".

When did I say that I'm confued about the value of Number of Beats Per Minute/Number of Seconds Per Minute per second?