# how to tell a songs time signature? am i doing this right?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Albini_Fan, May 16, 2003.

1. ### Albini_FanBanned

Jan 26, 2003
Beneath Below
just today i realized i could count to a song if it was 4/4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4. but then some songs have accented beats, ie its dun dun dun dun dun dun DAH DAH, duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn.these confuse me, but i count them like 1234, 1234, 12(accent)34, 1234. but sometimes i go "12, 1234" and mess it up. am i being stupid and songs just go into 2/4 randomly? ;0 is 2/4 even a time signature? and how do i count to something with crazy time signatures? like dillinger escape plan or the oxes? that gives mea headache

im not sure if any of that makes sense ;p but is counting to a song the best way to get figure out its time signature? i mean, how do i know if its in 3/4 and im just beign stupid and counting 1234? cuz i can coutn 123 123 and its all the same (wait, it actually dosnt :/ ) =( im retarded =\

2. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Yes, 2/4 is a time signature. It means there are 2 beats in each bar, each of which has the value of a quarter note.

Songs can go into 2/4, yes - but, in pop music, at least, it's not all that common. And it's not so likely that it'll go into 2/4 "randomly", as you put it. It'll most often be part of the structure of the song. Songs can have interjected bars of 2/4, for example, where there is maybe a single bar of 2/4 in a 4/4 song. But in most pop music, it's not all that common.

Most pop music is in 4/4, to be honest, and most of it stays in 4/4. There is a significant amount in 3/4, too, and also some in compound time (e.g. 6/8, 12/8). Then there are the ones that use irregular time signatures, or switch between different time signatures. They really are the minority.

However, the fact that two particular beats of the bar are accented does not mean it's gone into another time signature, necessarily.

A good way to spot the time signature is to listen for repeating patterns. Even if only in the drum parts, there are bound to be patterns to lock onto. For example, riffs. If the accompaniment to the song consists of a repeated riff, you can get a feel for the tempo, and count the beats from the start of the riff until it begins again.

Another thing is chord changes. Very often, chord changes are on the 1st beat of the bar. If you are able to hear when the chord changes, then this will help you out.

Failing that, listen to the drums. Even if you don't find anything you can lock onto in the music, listen to the rhythm of the drums. Drum parts in popular music tend to follow easily recognisable patterns, to a great extent. Listen for repeated drum patterns, and count the beats in between repeats. This will all give you a clue as to the time signature.

Get used to the feel of different time signatures, and get used to recognising them when you hear them.

Do this enough, and it becomes second nature. You can play in most time signatures, without having to think about the time signature. You'll be able to handle a wide range of time signatures, and be able to switch between them.

Oh, and no, you're not retarded. Please, don't think like that! You just lack understanding. Which is cool - what would be the point if we all understood everything, right from the start?

3. ### Kevin Gordon

Aug 27, 2002
San Francisco Bay Area
I think that generally counting off the beats between the begining and end of repeated patters will help you out a good deal. I am no expert but I this way has worked for me.