#1
Can someone explain some time signatures to me? I understand that the top number is the amount of beats in a measure and the bottom equals the value(ie 4 = quarter notes), but some are beyond me. and also, does tempo have any role?
I get 4/4, 3/4, 12/8 but I can't grasp 5/4, 6/8, and if there are any odd ones you can think of, hit me.
(By explain I mean say 4/4=one two three four, or bum bum bum BUM etc)
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#2
5/4 - five beetes per note, the quarter note gets the beat. five quarter note per measure

one, two, three, four, five

does that help?

Edit: and 6/8- six beats per measure eigth note gets the beat. usually put in groups of three.

____ ____
| | | | | | a measure of 6/8
/ / / / / /

counnted like, ONE two three, FOUR five six.
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Last edited by AngelGC at Jul 20, 2006,
#3
Yeah, but is the fifth beat the stressed one?
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#4
Just Count different. No Stressed notes. you just have to be creative enough to use the strange signiture. Take Primus's Eleven. the song is in 11/8. There is nothing stressed, overlooked, or disreguarded. they just count 11 eighth notes in one measure...

...help any?
#5
Well there's lots of ways to do 5/4 but if it helps you the Mission Impossible theme is in 5/4. And as for 6/8, it's usually like a pair of triples like ONE, two three, FOUR, five six. Hope it helps.
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#6
Quote by crazynickman
Yeah, but is the fifth beat the stressed one?


no its not. they are all the same

in 6/8 the one and the four are stressed
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#7
Thanks guys this helps. I'm more of a CR fan myself, Captain Xero and i just saw that Zeppelin's "The Crunge" and I think "Dyer Maker" is in 5/4 so Ill work it out that way too...thanks all.
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#8
Depends on what the composer wants.


6/8 is counted as One-and-ah, two-and-ah, One-and-ah, two-and-ah and so on. Alot of irish music and some marches are done in 6/8, but isn't done very much modernly. you won't face it much.


hope this helps.


Jason A.

P.M w/ questions
#9
Quote by cashewchaching
Depends on what the composer wants.


6/8 is counted as One-and-ah, two-and-ah, One-and-ah, two-and-ah and so on. Alot of irish music and some marches are done in 6/8, but isn't done very much modernly. you won't face it much.


hope this helps.


Jason A.

P.M w/ questions


its counted like than when you are reading it as 2/4. technicaly 6/8 is one, two, three, four, five, six.

six eighth notes. 6/8. althought they are usually grouped in threes, they are still 8th notes.
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#11
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The accents are generally on one and four. It is essentially triplets in 2/4.


i said that in my first post. you can count it that way, but it would be 2/4. he asked about 6/8.
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#12
ok, a simple lesson on time signatures. to start, whoever is telling you that you dont put emphasis on any beat is just flat out wrong. also, you dont put the stress one the four in 4/4. the main stress is on the one and then the three has a semi-stress.

ok, its best to look at time signatures as a fraction. lets use 4/4 to start. instead of seeing that as four over four, look at it as 4 times 1/4. i find it easier to look at it this way because then you see that 1/4 as a quarter note instead of just a 4. then you see that you have four quarter notes. 2/4 would be 2 times one fourth, or two quarter notes. 5/8 would be 5 times 1/8, or five eighth notes. that tells you how many notes you have of what duration. the duration in this case is the length of the beat. so in 4/4, that 1/4 is the length of a beat. you then have four quarter note beats.

well i guess you want to know which notes to emphasize? fair enough, heres a little thing i have written up:
the difference that you will start to notice between time signatures is where the emphasized notes are in each bar. so think of bold as strong beats, underlined as semi strong stressed, and regular font as normal stress. these are some examples of what you would expect for different time signatures:
4/4 - 1 2 3 4
3/4 - 1 2 3 (waltz time)
5/4 - 1 2 3 4 5 OR 1 2 3 4 5
the main thing is to listen for the stresses and emphasized beats, and this should give you an idea of the time signature. the strong beats are where you kinda tap your foot a bit harder when listening to a good song, or nod your head a bit harder if you arent around people wholl think you are crazy. once you start to pick up on it in the song, it gets easier to hear
--------

now, when the top number is greater than 3 but divisible by three, the above rule does not work. why you ask? because we are no longer in simple time. anything like 6/4 or 12/8 is compound time, whereas things such as 5/8 and 4/4 are simple time. since this was well recieved before, heres my bit on compound time:

basicly, there are two times of time, simple and compound. compound is when the top number is greater than three and also divisible by three. that means things like 6/8 or 12/8, but not 3/4. basicly the difference is that while in simple time the number on the bottom is a beat, ie. in 4/4 the quarter note gets the beat, that is not so in compound time. instead what you are going to do is divide the top number by three to get the number of beats. lets look at an example of this. lets say we have something in 6/8, that means we are going to divide the 6 by 3 to get the number of beats. 6 divided by 3 is two, so we have two beats. if you look at my example above, you see i have two stressed numbers (1 and 4) so these are where your beats start.

now, if you want a little algorithm for how long each beat is, i suggest you look at the time signatures as a fraction. lets look at 6/8 again for this. a good way to look at this is six times one eighth. this makes sense because you look at that thinking you have enough room for six eighth notes, or 6 * 1/8 = 6/8. now when you divide the top number by three to find the number of beats, i would then multiply the bottom number by 3 to get the beat length. so i get 6 / 3 = 2 for the top, and 1/8 * 3 = 3/8 for the bottom. if you look at my previous post you can clearly see that there are three eighth notes per each beat in 6/8.

one cool thing about compound time is it gives off a triplet feel, but you dont have to use triplet notation which can get messy. i hope some of that made sense, im not the best at explaining all these thing. if something doesnt make sense, needs clarification, or you just have more questions, feel free to ask.
-----------

some of that is probably jumbled cause its copy pasted into this reply, but hopefully youll get the idea. ask any questions you have, and ill answer them because i have no life.
#13
Quote by crazynickman
Can someone explain some time signatures to me? I understand that the top number is the amount of beats in a measure and the bottom equals the value (ie 4 = quarter notes), but some are beyond me.
After reading every time signature thread I've found in this forum, I can only conclude that most players' concepts in this area are so fuzzy as to be unusable. The amount of misinformation that gets thrown around is just amazing. Is it any wonder the newcomers get so confused about what is really a pretty straightforward subject?

For example, I read over and over in this forum that the 6/8 time signature calls for six beats per measure, with the eighth-note receiving the beat. Friends and fellow players, this is simply not true. The 6/8 signature is a compound time signature and calls for two beats per measure, with the dotted quarter-note getting the beat.

If you don't know this already, I was involved in the U.S. Navy music program where, as you can probably imagine, I had to learn about, study and memorize military marches. Well, probably half (if not more) of all the military marches out there are written in 6/8 time, John Philip Sousa's The Washington Post march being one of the more famous examples. You simply cannot march to six beats per measure. No, all marches are two beats per measure - one beat for each human leg. The six eighth-notes per measure appear in two groups of three, the equivalent on a dotted quarter-note.

As another example of compound time, SRV's Pride and Joy is in 12/8 time, four beats per measure with the dotted quarter getting the beat, not 12 beats per measure with the eighth-note getting the beat.

I invested a lot of time and effort in writing this lesson on Time Signatures. You'll probably never see it in Yale's Jounal of Music Theory, but I think you'll find it helpful if you're at all unsure about the differences between simple and compound time.

...and also, does tempo have any role?
The time signature tells you nothing about tempo, but the tempo is a factor in deciding which time signature to use.
I get 4/4, 3/4, 12/8 but I can't grasp 5/4, 6/8, and if there are any odd ones you can think of, hit me. (By explain I mean say 4/4=one two three four, or bum bum bum BUM etc)
4/4: 1 2 3 4 OR 1 2 3 4
5/4: 1 2 3 4 5 OR 1 2 3 4 5
6/8: 1 ta da 2 ta da
12/8: 1 ta da 2 ta da 3 ta da 4 ta da
7/8: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 OR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 OR etc...
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#14
Wow, thanks everyone, this cleared up a lot. to all
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