#1
How do I tell a single 8/4 bar from two 4/4 bars when hearing it?

Also, is there any song with an entire section of 8/4 bars?
Last edited by Dynamight at Nov 17, 2014,
#3
Time signatures aren't really facts. (Of course it's clear if the bar has 3 or 2 or 5 or whatever beats in it but the differences between time signatures like 3/4 and 3/8 are subtle.) Sometimes the composer decides to write in 4/2 time signature instead of 4/4. They may sound the same to the listener's ears but it makes the musician think a bit differently. They are pretty much just performance guides.

Same with 3/8 vs 3/4. You can't really hear a difference between them (or maybe somebody could, I don't know).

I have never seen 8/4 time signature. 4/2 is sometimes used. But to the listener it pretty much sounds the same as 4/4. They can't know if the beats are half notes or quarter notes or 8th notes or whatever.
#4
Generally it's to do with the phrasing. With the 3/4 vs 3/8, 4 is being played in a simple time signature. 8 is a compound time signature (it almost sounds like triplets... But is definitely not). 8/4 would be 8 notes of quarters which is hard to write for. That's why it would be 4/4. Easier to write an entire song in 4/4 if it's going to sound the same.
#5
If there's any difference it's the phrasing. A time signature is nothing more than a shape or format that helps understand what the composer was doing. In the end it doesn't matter if it's 3/8, 5/4 or 23/16. As long as the song is played the way it's meant to be played it doesn't really matter.
#6
Quote by azrael667
If there's any difference it's the phrasing. A time signature is nothing more than a shape or format that helps understand what the composer was doing. In the end it doesn't matter if it's 3/8, 5/4 or 23/16. As long as the song is played the way it's meant to be played it doesn't really matter.

Yeah. As I said in my post, time signature is not a fact. It's something people have come up with to explain music.

Also about the differences between 3/8 and 3/4... I don't know.

This is in 3/8:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhkoUQ7HdIQ

If I didn't know it was written in 3/8, I would say it's in 3/4.

Same with this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT8JmxmTs1s
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 17, 2014,
#7
Thanks for the replies (except the useless first one). As I understand, you can't actually hear the difference, but it's up to the intention of the artist.

However, I'm a bit confused by your likening of 4/4 8/4 to 3/4 3/8, since 3/8 changes the beat value, while 4/4 and 8/4 have the same one. To me it makes more sense to compare it to 3/4 and 6/4.

To put my question differently though. If the phrasing goes something like this: 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3 (the beat being a 1/4 note) which of the following is more appropriate?
1. 8/4 8/4
2. 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4
3. 5/4 3/4 5/4 3/4
#8
The first post wasn't useless it was your answer. 8/4 is pretty much theoretical. Like there's no real reason to ever use it and nobody ever does.

As for your second question, alternating 5/4 and 3/4.
#9
Quote by Dynamight


To put my question differently though. If the phrasing goes something like this: 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3 (the beat being a 1/4 note) which of the following is more appropriate?
1. 8/4 8/4
2. 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4
3. 5/4 3/4 5/4 3/4


Is there a reason that you count up to 5 and then 3, rather than just to 8, or two groups of 4? Are you implying an accent besides the 1 in bold at the start of each 5 beat run? If that's the case, like it's a 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3, that's still 4/4. Just with an accent on something besides the 1 and 3 beats. Which is very common.

Also, the first post was spot on. 4/4 and 8/4 are the same thing. The only reason I could imagine someone would even bother saying 8/4 rather than 4/4 is if they were writing a 4/4 riff that goes for two bars before repeating. And even in that situation, most wouldn't say 8/4. They'd just say 4/4, and the riff would take up two bars.
#10
I just wrote a whole paragraph before realizing we're talking about 8/4, not 8/8 -_-
The only time someone would write that way is if tempo is really fast and each bar flies past too quickly, or if notes have weird lengths and the composer wants to keep everything neat in one bar. I dunno.
#11
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
The first post wasn't useless it was your answer. 8/4 is pretty much theoretical. Like there's no real reason to ever use it and nobody ever does.

As for your second question, alternating 5/4 and 3/4.

It was useless because it was, at the very least, hilariously underdeveloped, and was anyone's guess what it even meant. An answer without an explanation doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

Plus, you're clearly wrong since various well known pieces have 8/4 bars.

Quote by the_bi99man
Is there a reason that you count up to 5 and then 3, rather than just to 8, or two groups of 4? Are you implying an accent besides the 1 in bold at the start of each 5 beat run? If that's the case, like it's a 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3, that's still 4/4. Just with an accent on something besides the 1 and 3 beats. Which is very common.

Resetting to 1 indicates the phrase repeats itself at that beat, but stops abruptly at 3 where it only goes up to 3.
The more you say 'epic' the less it means.
Last edited by Dynamight at Nov 20, 2014,
#13
Quote by Dynamight
It was useless because it was, at the very least, hilariously underdeveloped, and was anyone's guess what it even meant. An answer without an explanation doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

Plus, you're clearly wrong since various well known pieces have 8/4 bars.


Resetting to 1 indicates the phrase repeats itself at that beat, but stops abruptly at 3 where it only goes up to 3.

K so there are a handful of 8/4 measures in notable western literature. You win.

Here's the real answer: you can't tell the difference. You could write every 4/4 piece ever in 8/4 and no one would be any the wiser unless they looked at a score.

Why might you want to use 8/4? If you wanted to group quarter note beats together in any way other than 2+2. So if you wanted to have 3+3+2, you would need 8/4 because it's bad practice to write beat groups over bar lines. The thing is this is really uncommon because if you wanted to do that you should probably just use multiple time signatures. Or just use accents. It's more common when dealing with x/8 or x/16 time signatures to group notes like that, which is why 8/8 is relatively common, even though it's kind of the same thing as 4/4. When it exists it will never be grouped as 4+4 or 2+2+2+2 it will always be 3+2+3 or 3+3+2 or 2+3+3 (shown through beaming).


There sweetheart. Better?
Last edited by jazz_rock_feel at Nov 20, 2014,