Time Signatures?<---- your chance to be smart!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by sayawnj, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. sayawnj


    Dec 9, 2003
    I understand how to work with time signatures and alot of how music is composed into notation, but what are the advantages of having different time signatures like 3/2 and 4/4, 6/8, etc... Is it because of how the song is transisting? Like the flow of notes from measure to measure? It does make a little sense but I still can't firmly grasp the concept.

    Your insight?
  2. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    :meh: well, you understand the basics, right? So you know this much:

    Top # = how many beats per measure.
    Bottom # = what note gets one count.

    4/4 = 4 beats per measure & 1/4 note gets one count

    3/4 = 3 beats per measure & 1/4 note gets one count

    ...if I'm reading your question right, I think your asking why would it be acceptable for a person to ever write 6/8 for the time rather than simplifying it down to 3/4? (the way your math teacher would want) Is that what your asking? That's actually not a bad question - here's my WAG's and assumptions. I think that by writing 6/8 (as opposed to 3/4) you'd be implying that there will be some eigth note rythms played. I think that often times has to do with a swing feel to the eight notes.
  3. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    This sort of this is best done with musical examples. Typed descriptions are difficult. But to me 6/8 and 3/4 "feel" have a different downnbeat. If the downbeat is on beat 1,

    6/8 is 1,2,3,4,5,6 1 ,2,3,4,5,6

    3/4 is 1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3

    Does that make sense?
  4. The top number you can hear from the music, usually. it's in the phrasing. some things will work in either 3 or 6, but there's usually one that works better. a 12-beat phrase can be three 4-beat bars, or four 3-beat bars, and it's not too hard to tell the difference.

    the second one is just for ease of writing it down. 4/4, 4/8, 4/64, can all sound identical. the bottom number just dictates what gets one beat when writing out the music. if something has a lot of fast notes, you'd use 8 rather than 4 because then you're likely to go only to 32nd notes rather than 64ths, say. it's all aesthetics. i would think 64ths would be harder to read than 32nds simply because they need more ink on the page.

    rereading this it isn't making much sense, but i can't think of how to clarify it........
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Except, that's not quite right.

    6/8 actually is 1,2,3,4,5,6 1 ,2,3,4,5,6

    The difference lies between what we call simple and compound time.

    simple time (in your example, 3/4 is simple triple) is when the unit of beat (the quarter note in 3/4) is divided into two subdivisions. (1 and 2 and 3 and).

    compound time (again, in the example 6/8) is when the unit of beat is divided into three subdivisions (1 and a 2 and a). you can't write 3/4.5 (for dotted quarter), so you have to write the number of subdivisions. 6/8 is compound duple time, with the dotted quarter as the unit of beat.
  6. sayawnj


    Dec 9, 2003
    thanks for your help. I understand the idea behind having different sigs a little better now.