#1
Hi guys.

I realize that there is a similar thread to this one in the Archives of Best Threads and a few lessons regarding this, but to be honest, those didn't really help me. I've been playing guitar for some time, and I still have next to no idea of what a time signature is or how to recognize one in a song.

I hear things about using fourth notes and measures and stuff, but I just don't know what any of those are.

It will probably take a lot of typing, but I would really like someone to try to explain to me, as in-depth as they possibly can, what time signatures are and how to calculate them in songs. It's a big favor to ask, and I can't guarantee I'll even understand it, but I'd appreciate if someone could help me out on this. It's starting to become very frustrating that I don't know anything about what seems to be a fairly basic aspect of music.

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help.
#2
I will present this in links to add to other posts which are more in depth: I will most likely give you bad info by miswording things.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_signature <--first of all, the basic info on them.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8lejCJM3f8 this helped me count time signatures

and these lessons will help.
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/the_basics/time_signatures.html
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/the_basics/why_do_my_scales_sound_boring_part_2_time_signatures.html

I also recommend you look at...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcgyKo7vbm4 which is in 6/8 and very simple and fun to play. easy to count, too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93jsY-YdZ1s this is called "5/4" for a reason

At first, it will feel very awkward, but practise and it will soon feel natural.
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#3
Ok well this can be a complicated subject, especially without having specifics to explain but I'll try. When you look at a time signature it looks like a fraction. The number on top is the number of beats in a measure. The one on the bottom is which type of note gets the beat (half notes, quarters, eighths etc.) Ok now this can be confusing, so let's look at an example. The most common time signature is 4/4 time, which means there are 4 beats in a measure, and a quarter note counts as a beat. To recognize it or apply it in a song it would be counted as ONE two three four ONE two three four, emphasis being on the first note of each measure. So now let's look at a time signature where the quarter note doesn't receive a beat. Another common time signature is 6/8 time, in which there are 6 beats per measure, and an eight note gets the beat. To count out something in 6/8, you would say it as ONE two three FOUR five six, placing the emphasis on the 1st and fourth eighth note. After that there are plenty of odd meters, but don't worry about those until you get the basics down. Hope this helped, let me know if you need anything clarified
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#4
Quote by Talent336
Hi guys.

I realize that there is a similar thread to this one in the Archives of Best Threads and a few lessons regarding this, but to be honest, those didn't really help me. I've been playing guitar for some time, and I still have next to no idea of what a time signature is or how to recognize one in a song.

I hear things about using fourth notes and measures and stuff, but I just don't know what any of those are.

It will probably take a lot of typing, but I would really like someone to try to explain to me, as in-depth as they possibly can, what time signatures are and how to calculate them in songs. It's a big favor to ask, and I can't guarantee I'll even understand it, but I'd appreciate if someone could help me out on this. It's starting to become very frustrating that I don't know anything about what seems to be a fairly basic aspect of music.

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help.


Okay, I don't know the exact basis, but I'll try my best.

A time signature explains the duration of a note during a measure. Let me give an example.

4
-
4

4/4 Timing is the most commonly used time signature in music nowadays. The top number explains how many of the standard note is in one measure. In this case, you'll have 4 notes of the noted duration in a measure. The bottom number notates what note gets the standard beat. They are in almost all cases, are written in numbers based off of increments of 2 x N. In basic aspects, you can have the bottom number be half notes (2), quarter notes (4, most common), eighth notes (8) etc.

So as an explaination of 4/4, you will have 4 quarter notes per measure. See how this works? The top number shows how many (in this example, its 4) and the bottom number shows that the steady beat, or base note, are quarter notes.

This can get tricky with different numbers as some will almost sound the same. 3/4 and 6/8 are almost the same, but not quite.

In 6/8 timing, you will have 6 8th notes per measure.

You can use other durations, so long as they still add up to the same amount of beats. In 4/4 you are not limited to just 4 quarter notes, you can have 3 quarter notes and 2 8th notes, etc.

There are two main types, called Duple time and triple time. Duple is based off of 2's, while triple is based off 3s. What this means, is stuff like 4/4 is in duple and stuff in 6/8 are based off of 3's. These can be distinguished easily if you have the ear for it. In my personal use, I can tell if something is in triple time by being able to "rock and lean" your body to the beat. Listen to something such as Nothing Else Matters. You can sway your body to the beat. I feel this helps with distinguishing the two.

I hope this kind of helps. If you need further explaination, I'll try my best, or maybe if you get an idea, others here can help explain better than I can

Now, trying to figure it out by ear takes some practice. 4/4 is pretty recognizable, as is 6/8.
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#5
It's probably been answered well enough for you but I'll give it a shot anyways.
Here are the basics, as simple as possible:

Take 3/4 for example.
The upper number = the number of beats in a measure
The lower number = The type of note that counts as 1 beat.

3/4 = 3 quarter notes per measure.
5/8 = 5 eighth notes per measure
3/2 = 3 half notes per measure.

You'll eventually see time signatures and not understand why they exist. 3/4 and 6/8 for example. They both have the same amount of notes so why do they exist? It's because the pulse (and sometimes counting used for it) is different. The pulse is where you feel the beats. This was also said above I believe. 3/4 has pulses on beats 1, 2 and 3. 6/8 has pulses on beats 1 and 4. Practice counting these and emphasize the beats where the pulse lies and you'll feel it.
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Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 31, 2011,
#6
I'm having as hard a time trying to explain what I don't understand about it as I am trying to understand it. I'll try to use the video that Banjocal recommended me to help me explain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8lejCJM3f8

At 7:30 into the video, he starts playing a beat in 5/4. He even counts it off out loud as he's playing. It's a simply played beat, he only hits the drum five times before he starts again. If you watch it for a bit longer, he starts adding a lot more hits in while still staying in the signature. How would I know what the time signature was if I was listening to the more complex part? It's not as easy as counting how many times he hits the drum.

That's honestly as clearly as I can explain that. I hope you guys will know how to help me. Thanks for all the help you guys have already given me.
#7
Listen to his accents.
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#8
Quote by iancmtaylor
Listen to his accents.

Yeah, this is pretty much the way to do it. Listen to what beats get the emphasis. Asymmetrical meters like 5/4 or 7/8 have a different feel than more common meters such as 4/4 or 6/8. It's all about recognizing the feel/accents of the meter. If the song has a phrase that repeats every x amount of bars, that makes it much easier to figure out.
I think the best way to learn to recognize different meters is to listen to them. Try listening to songs that use different meters till you can start to get the feel and hear the difference between them.
Hell, you could even just write things in the meters if you wanted to. Just be sure to hit the accents on the right places so you don't accidentally write a 4/4 riff notated in 5/4 time. 1 always has a strong accent which will help keep it clear.
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