Time Signature

The time signature is located at the head of a piece of music after the clef sign.  It establishes how many beats per measure and what kind of note gets one beat.  A measure bar divides beats into groups with a vertical line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top number of the time signature tells how many beats per measure, and the bottom number tells what kind of note gets one beat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, if the time signature is        , there will be 4 beats per measure, and a quarter note will get one beat.  It is a fraction stating that each measure will be equal to 4 quarter notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the time signature is      , each measure will have 3 beats, and a quarter note will get one beat.  each measure will be equal to 3 quarter notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it may seem that the bottom number is always going to be 4, however sometimes, the bottom number may be different.  

 

For example, if the time signature is      , each measure will have 6 beats, and an eighth note will get one beat.  Each measure will be equal to 6 eighth notes.  In this case, the measure will be counted, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6."  Each eighth note will be counted as one beat.

time signature          

measure bar

____ beats per measure

____ note gets one beat

How to Read Music

Read Music Method for Adult Beginners

Easily recognize the symbols of written music!  Make the leap from beginner to early intermediate using the Read Music Method for Adult Beginners.

top number

bottom number

4 quarter notes per measure

3 quarter notes per measure

6 eighth notes per measure

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