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  • I have a question about time signatures.

    I understand that the numerator in a time signature is the Beats per Measure however I am a'little lost on the denominator, I was always told that the denominator of a Time Sig is "what note gets the beat." But what exactly does that mean? Does that mean that every beat is a quarter note if the denominator is 4? Does that mean if the sig is in 4/2 that every second half note gets the beat? Im sorry if this is a really noobish question, I am kind of new to music theory and I am learning through information on the web. So any other help/suggestion/tips is greatly appreciated. I thank all of you who take the time to help me learn this stuff, it can get really confusing when you learn this stuff on your own.. lol

     

    Note: Aaaaaaand I just realized I am totally in the wrong category right now, I don't even know how I ended up in the "Political Party." My bad guys, this new format is really hard to get the hang of.


  • #2

    Yeah, 4/2 would be four half notes per measure, which I've never seen. The numerator can be anything, but the denominator will be some multiple of 2 (4, 8, 16, etc), unless its 1, which I've also never seen.




    While she's talking, I'll use my mind to think of other things. She can't stop my mind!

    Comment


    • #3

      The numerator is the number of beats, the denominator is the division of those beats.  The denominator is always divisible by 2.

       

      So a denominator of 2 means half notes, 4 = quarter notes, 8 = eigth notes, 16 = 16th notes, etc.

       

      The top is how many of the bottom there are in a measure.

      So 4/4 is four quarter notes in a measure.  3/4 is 3 quarter notes in a measure.  6/8 would be six eigth notes per measure.  The difference between 3/4 and 6/8, which is mathmatically the same thing, is that 3/4 is the beat is clapped as quarter notes, so you count it 1 and 2 and 3 and, 1 and 2 and 3 and.  6/8 on the other hand, is counted as two groups of triplets, or a swing feel.  Thus it has two beats, 1 and a, 2 and a.  The same applies to 4/4 vs 12/8.  9/8 is tricky as Middle Eastern music would count it as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 (simililarly, 10/8, 11/8, 13/8) and bands such as Dream Theater might play it 'straight' like that.  But other times they will play 12/8 (a triplet feel) and play a "short" measure and throw in a 9/8 with a triplet feel. 

       

      For odd times, you could have 7/8.  This is usually counted 1,2,3,4,5,6,sev (if you count seven, then you actually have two syllables, and two beats, so count seven as sev).  The difference in counting 8ths and quarters is that with quarters you add the word and on the 8ths.  So Pink Floyd's "money" is 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and Sev and. 

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      Comment


      • Leon1242
        Leon1242 commented
        Editing a comment

         

        Opposite Day and Shredhead, you guys helped a lot. I especially liked that Shredhead used Pink Floyd as a reference, that's my favorite band. So thank you so much for that! But I have yet another question, could you kind of mix the notes together so to speak? What I mean by that is if the sig is 4/4 couldn't you still use Quarter notes, eightnotes and maybe sixteenth notes all in one bar as long as they don't exceed 4 beats? for example, could I use 4 eighth notes (=2 beats) and then 2 quarters to take up the remaining two beats? or would that go against music theory? Granted, that would sound really awkward and strange, but im just trying to make sure I have a decent understand of it.


    • #4

      Leon you can totally mix & match note durations and it's not going to sound weird, it's done all the time. If you look at a piece of 4/4 music you will see whole noted (4 beats), half notes, quarter note, 8th notes, 16th notes, etc etc.
      you can go longer OR shorter than the denominator that gets "1 beat"

      Ever hear people count out "1 - & (and) - 2 - & - 3 - &..."
      They are counting the half beats (8th notes if you are in 4/4)

      quarter beats (like 16th notes in 4/4) get counted "1 - e (eee) - & - a (ahh) "

      The thing is you can write something a few different ways and it'll actually be the same notes and durations

      like 4 quarter notes in 4/4 make a measure
      but in 2/2 (sometimes called "cut time")...4 quarter notes STILL make a measure

      they'll be written the same way :womansurprised: (you can play a piece in cut time even though the time signature is written 4/4)

      Why the hell would we do this if it's the same notes and durations?

      Because the count effects the expression ( which notes we accent and all that)

      try this - we're going to take 8 hand claps

      start clapping and count it out

      1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

      do that for a few times, keep clapping at the same tempo, but switch to counting like this

      1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&

      do that for a bit then switch to

      1-e-&-a-2-e-&-a

      same tempo, same claps...but do you see how the feel changes...where you sort of put the emphasis and how you think about where the downbeat is and such?

      Comment


      • shredhead7
        shredhead7 commented
        Editing a comment

        Glad to have helped. I know a lot of musicians that don't know how to count, let alone read and understand a time signature. So kudos to you for taking the time to try to learn something that will greatly improve your playing and ability to pick up new things.

        The best thing that I ever did for learning how to learn, was to take an intro to piano class in college. I wasn't even a music major and played guitar, but that single class taught me an intro to theory and how to read music (understand notation, time signatures, key signatures, etc...).


      • Uncle Figgy
        Uncle Figgy commented
        Editing a comment
        When I was trained at music school they always said dont worry about the paper worry about what in you heart.

    • #5

      It's been fairly well explained so far but I'll throw this in,

       

      4/4= 4 beats in a measure, and the quarter note (1/4) gets the beat.  Notice the "denominators" match?  This means you can have as many as 4 quarter notes per measure (1/4+1/4+1/4+1/4=4/4=1 measure.)  You can add or subdivide notes any way you want, but the total has to equal 4/4 which equals one measure.  6/8=6 beats per measure, and the eighth note (1/8) gets the beat.  Mathematically, 6/8=3/4, but the accents are placed differently.  In 6/8, the accents should occur every three beats (three 1/8s x 2) and in 3/4, the accents occur every quarter note (=two 1/8s x3.)

       

      4/4=C=common time.  2/2=cut time.  Again, they're the same mathematically, but in 2/2, the half note (1/2) gets the beat, so you're feeling common time in 4, and cut time in 2.

      Comment


    • #6

      Onelife brought up the subject of asymetrical rhythms like 7/8, which are usually subdivided into sections (ex. 4/8 +3/8.)  If you put a grouping of 7 grapes on a table and ask anyone to tell you how many grapes there are, they won't immediately see 7 as one grouping.  They will automatically subdivide the total into smaller, simpler groups of 2s and 3s and then add the subgroupings and give you the answer.  Try this experiment on your own and see how you come up with the answer.

      Comment


      • #7

        "In a measure of 6/4, is a Whole Note held for four beats or six?"  - onelife

         

        Four beats.  A dotted whole note would equal 6 beats.

        Comment


        • wallywanker
          wallywanker commented
          Editing a comment

          what i've learned, in my time here at harmony central, is that it's important to play as many notes as possible in the shortest time possible.  it's o.k. if they're in the right key, but if you can make some gutteral howls and have a slide show of dead things behind it that helps a lot too. just do the best you can, but remember, in the end it will never be br00talZ enough because, face it, you're a ****************ing ******************** and your gear sux cuz it's not like mine...


      • #8

        I remember writing a track in 7/8 and the guitarist was out of sync.  I asked him, "it's in 7/8...you know that, right?"  "Yeah."  "How are you counting it?"  "One, two, three, four, five, six, se-ven..."

        Comment


        • #9

          Leon1242 wrote:

          I understand that the numerator in a time signature is the Beats per Measure however I am a'little lost on the denominator, I was always told that the denominator of a Time Sig is "what note gets the beat." But what exactly does that mean? Does that mean that every beat is a quarter note if the denominator is 4? Does that mean if the sig is in 4/2 that every second half note gets the beat? Im sorry if this is a really noobish question, I am kind of new to music theory and I am learning through information on the web. So any other help/suggestion/tips is greatly appreciated. I thank all of you who take the time to help me learn this stuff, it can get really confusing when you learn this stuff on your own.. lol

           

          Note: Aaaaaaand I just realized I am totally in the wrong category right now, I don't even know how I ended up in the "Political Party." My bad guys, this new format is really hard to get the hang of.


          nobody knows wtf u r talking about. 

           

          don't believe anything. 

          Comment


          • Snaporaz
            Snaporaz commented
            Editing a comment
            we would understand when he would write in music terminology,

            as it is it could be anything he talks about


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