MacMusic.org  |  PcMusic.org  |  440Software  |  440Forums.com  |  440Tv  |  Zicos.com  |  AudioLexic.org
Loading... visitors connected
 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> Can You Explain Time Signatures In Plain English?
better
post Fri 11 Jan 2008, 07:45
Post #1


Rookie
*

Group: Banned
Posts: 25
Joined: 03-Dec 07
Member No.: 96,928




Everytime I try to learn about it (or most music theory) the person or thing I'm reading gets off on an 8 hour tangent and doesn't explain it in plain, simple English. (Why it so hard to explain it as- 1-2-3-4? Without getting off subject?)


--------------------
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
deaconblue
post Sat 12 Jan 2008, 16:12
Post #2


Junior Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 178
Joined: 27-Jan 03
From: Austin - US
Member No.: 11,156




QUOTE (better @ Fri 11 Jan 2008, 01:45) *
Everytime I try to learn about it (or most music theory) the person or thing I'm reading gets off on an 8 hour tangent and doesn't explain it in plain, simple English. (Why it so hard to explain it as- 1-2-3-4? Without getting off subject?)


The time signature is how many beats per measure and what type of note gets the beat.

4/4 is 4 beats per measure with a quarter note receiving the beat, so 4 quarter notes in one measure(think rock and blues), 1, 2, 3, 4 -, 2, 2, 3, 4 - 3, 2, 3, 4 - 4, 2, 3, 4...
3/4 is 3 beats per measure with a quarter note receiving the beat, so 3 quarter notes in one measure (think waltz) 1,2,3 - 2, 2, 3 - 3, 2, 3, - 4, 2, 3...

the top number is how many beats will comprise one measure of music
the bottom number is the note value.

So:

4/4 = 4 quarter notes
4/4 | - - - - | - - - - |

3/4 = 3 quarter notes
3/4 | - - - | - - - |

3/8 = three eighth notes
3/8 | - - - | - - - |

4/8 = 4 eighth notes
4/8 | - - - - | - - - - |

5/4 = 5 quarter notes
5/4 | - - - - - | - - - - - |

The difference in 3/4 vs 3/8 is nuance and can be confusing without the theory background. In most western music (the geography, not the style) the quarter note will get the beat.

Does that make any sense? Unfortunately, going into the realm of music theory is not really off subject, but it is the detail behind the explanation.

Holler if this doesn't make any sense or if it drives more questions.

peace


--------------------
...as you dream you shall become.
boxed art media
Musicians' Access
M.A.W.R web radio
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Berhu N°2
post Sun 11 Jan 2009, 21:15
Post #3


Maniac Member
******

Group: Members
Posts: 500
Joined: 01-Jul 07
From: Paris - FR
Member No.: 92,619




Hello here, hello better.
In addition to deaconblue's info:
1- About the lower figure which stands for a duration value, and the upper for how many notes of this value per mesure: as i'm looking for appropriate english terminology (i'm french), i run into this page, which explains the topic.
2- you have to get clear about the difference between binary and ternary. I do not speak about the whole measure but about the way each beat is sliced. Generally, nowadays, time signature with 8 as lower figure goes with a ternary beat.

For instance 2/4 is a two beats mesure, each beat (quarternote) being normally split in 2 eighth notes or 4 sixteenth notes, which is hence binary. On the other hand, 6/8 is also a two beats measure, but each beat is composed of 3 8th, instead of 2.
So 2/4 goes |1&2&|1&2&|... and 6/8 goes |1&&2&&|1&&2&&|...
So (to refine deaconblue's example about 4 beats measures) 4/4 (1&2&3&4&) is rock (Johnny B Goode), 12/8 (1&&2&&3&&4&&) is blues "shuffle" (Sweet Home Chicago).

This is the basics...Hope it helps smile.gif

PS: 4th note, 8th note and 16th note are recent american words, replacing the british crotchet, quaver and semi-quaver.
PPS: Please note that the above example in point 2 does not apply to jazz swing transcription, which is a special case.
PPPS: Please note also that the "/" when we write 2/4 doesn't exist in fact. (2/4 is 0.5, nothing to do with the duration of two 8th notes wink.gif )

QUOTE (better @ Fri 11 Jan 2008, 07:45) *
Why it so hard to explain it as- 1-2-3-4?
Because, as you see, it's not only a matter of 1-2-3-4. It is a bit deeper, like anything that come from far in the past (The first attempt in finding a common music writing in western Europe started a thousand years ago). Also because though it might be a very subtle and sophisticated "western" tool, it remains inapropriate if not traitor when it deals with music from other cultures. (The concept of "beat" is inappropriate, for instance, for many musics, because much too coarse, much too simple).

And moreover, it's the way you play the beat & subdivisions that make people know that you come from Bagdad, Bahia, Beijin, Belfast, Bucarest, Calcutta, Chicago of the 20's OR of the 60's, Hanoi, Kinshassa, Madrid, Marrakech, Paris, Vienna of the 19th century, etc..., etc... , though it might be transcribed the same way.
Or that you come from nowhere hahahahaha.
Did i manage to get you lost, here??? biggrin.gif


--------------------
Imbécile inventeur de proverbes sinoparisiens, par ex:
"Sous les pavés de texte, la plage musicale."
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
marceldolive
post Wed 15 Aug 2012, 04:50
Post #4


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 8
Joined: 14-Aug 12
From: Sao Paulo - BR
Member No.: 121,150




QUOTE (better @ Fri 11 Jan 2008, 08:45) *
Everytime I try to learn about it (or most music theory) the person or thing I'm reading gets off on an 8 hour tangent and doesn't explain it in plain, simple English. (Why it so hard to explain it as- 1-2-3-4? Without getting off subject?)


Hello,

I like metaphors, because sometimes our brain works better by images.


1) Imagine that each sheet music is a winery.

There are different sizes of wine containers.

Each container is half of another, then the producer put numbers to differentiate them.
The lower the container, the greater number:

Big gallons = 1 (the unit)

Barrels = 2 (the unit, gallon, divided by 2)

Big bottles = 4 (the unit, gallon, divided by 4)

Small bottles = 8 (the unit, gallon, divided by 8)

Samples (very small bottles) = 16 (the unit, gallon, divided by 16)


To deliver wine, the winery has different sizes of vehicles: trucks, cars, motocycles.

----------------------------------

2) Each container (big gallons, barrels, bottles) is as a rhythmic figure. So, each one can have a different duration.
We can say: is really faster to drink the content of a sample than all the wine inside a gallon.
----------------------------------

3) Imagine the musical measure is a delivery vehicle, and various sizes of vehicles are available.

----------------------------------

4) Then the wine producer, to know the size of each vehicle and the size (the "duration") of each container, make a "formula" like this:

Above: a number indicates how many containers fit in the vehicle
Below: another number indicates the kind of container is being used (gallon, barrel, big bottle, small bottle, sample)

E.g.:

3/4 = 3 big bottles (represented by number 4) fit in the vehicle (maybe a car?)

4/4 = 4 big bottles (represented by number 4) fit in the vehicle

12/8 = 12 small bottles (represented by number 8) fit in the vehicle

3/16 = 3 samples (represented by number 16) fit in the vehicle (maybe a motorcycle?)


That "formula" shows both: the size of the vehicle (musical measure) and the size of each container (rhythmic figures).
It's more complex than this, because the "wine producer" can mix the bottles of different sizes in the same vehicle.

But I hope this gives you a visual idea of "Time Signature".

This post has been edited by marceldolive: Wed 15 Aug 2012, 04:54
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
midiwife
post Thu 16 Aug 2012, 10:54
Post #5


Rookie
*

Group: Members
Posts: 48
Joined: 07-Oct 02
From: London - UK
Member No.: 8,287




Hi Marceldolive,

I really like your metaphor/analogy smile.gif

As I teach music production and technology courses to adults (often with no formal musical background) I'm always on the lookout for this kind of illustration.
I hope you don't mind if I borrow it for my classes?
I will give you full credit I promise!

All the very best,

Karina Townsend
Music tech coordinator
City Lit
London
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
marceldolive
post Thu 16 Aug 2012, 13:29
Post #6


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 8
Joined: 14-Aug 12
From: Sao Paulo - BR
Member No.: 121,150




QUOTE (midiwife @ Thu 16 Aug 2012, 10:54) *
Hi Marceldolive,

I really like your metaphor/analogy smile.gif

As I teach music production and technology courses to adults (often with no formal musical background) I'm always on the lookout for this kind of illustration.
I hope you don't mind if I borrow it for my classes?
I will give you full credit I promise!

All the very best,

Karina Townsend
Music tech coordinator
City Lit
London


Hello Ms. Townsend,

I appreciate your consideration and respect. Please feel free to use the explanation above, once I'll be happy if it be useful to more people.

Best regards,

Marcel d'Olive
independent musician / singer-songwriter
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post

Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 

Lo-Fi Version - Tue 17 Oct 2017, 14:18
- © 440 Forums 2011