Time signature

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Time signature
An example of a 3
4
time signature. The time signature indicates that there are three quarter notes (crotchets) per measure (bar).

The time signature (also known as meter signature, [1] metre signature, [2] or measure signature) [3] is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are contained in each measure (bar), and which note value is equivalent to a beat.

Western culture Norms, values and political systems originating in Europe

Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies that originated in or are associated with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are of European descent. Western culture has its roots in Greco-Roman culture from classical antiquity.

Musical notation graphic writing of musical parameters

Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instruments or sung by the human voice through the use of written, printed, or otherwise-produced symbols.

Beat (music) basic unit of time in music and music theory

In music and music theory, the beat is the basic unit of time, the pulse, of the mensural level. The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to a piece of music, or the numbers a musician counts while performing, though in practice this may be technically incorrect. In popular use, beat can refer to a variety of related concepts, including pulse, tempo, meter, specific rhythms, and groove.

Contents

In a music score, the time signature appears at the beginning as a time symbol or stacked numerals, such as Commontime.svg or 3
4
(read common time and three-four time, respectively), immediately following the key signature (or immediately following the clef symbol if the key signature is empty). A mid-score time signature, usually immediately following a barline, indicates a change of meter.

Key signature set of musical alterations

In musical notation, a key signature is a set of sharp, flat, and rarely, natural symbols placed together on the staff. Key signatures are generally written immediately after the clef at the beginning of a line of musical notation, although they can appear in other parts of a score, notably after a double barline.

Clef musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes

A clef is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. Placed on a stave, it indicates the name and pitch of the notes on one of the lines. This line serves as a reference point by which the names of the notes on any other line or space of the stave may be determined.

There are various types of time signatures, depending on whether the music follows regular (or symmetrical) beat patterns, including simple (e.g., 3
4
and 4
4
), and compound (e.g., 9
8
and 12
8
); or involves shifting beat patterns, including complex (e.g., 5
4
or 7
8
), mixed (e.g., 5
8
& 3
8
or 6
8
& 3
4
), additive (e.g., 3+2+3
8
), fractional (e.g., 2 12
4
), and irrational meters (e.g., 3
10
or 5
24
).

Frequently used time signatures

Time signature
Basic time signatures: 4
4
, also known as common time( Commontime.svg ); 2
2
, alla breve , also known as cut time or cut-common time ( Allabreve.svg ); 2
4
; 3
4
; and 6
8

Simple vs. compound

Simple

Simple time signatures consist of two numerals, one stacked above the other:

  • The lower numeral indicates the note value that represents one beat (the beat unit). This number is typically a power of 2.
  • The upper numeral indicates how many such beats constitute a bar.
Power of two two raised to an integer power

In mathematics, a power of two is a number of the form 2n where n is an integer, that is, the result of exponentiation with number two as the base and integer n as the exponent.

Bar (music) time unit in rhythmic musical notation

In musical notation, a bar is a segment of time corresponding to a specific number of beats in which each beat is represented by a particular note value and the boundaries of the bar are indicated by vertical bar lines. Dividing music into bars provides regular reference points to pinpoint locations within a musical composition. It also makes written music easier to follow, since each bar of staff symbols can be read and played as a batch. Typically, a piece consists of several bars of the same length, and in modern musical notation the number of beats in each bar is specified at the beginning of the score by the time signature. In simple time,, the top figure indicates the number of beats per bar, while the bottom number indicates the note value of the beat.

For instance, 2
4
means two quarter-note (crotchet) beats per bar, while 3
8
means three eighth-note (quaver) beats per bar. The most common simple time signatures are 2
4
, 3
4
, and 4
4
.

By convention, two special symbols are sometimes used for 4
4
and 2
2
:

  • The symbol Commontime.svg is sometimes used for 4
    4
    time, also called common time or imperfect time. The symbol is derived from a broken circle used in music notation from the 14th through 16th centuries, where a full circle represented what today would be written in 3
    2
    or 3
    4
    time, and was called tempus perfectum (perfect time). [4] See Mensural time signatures below.
  • The symbol Allabreve.svg is also a carry-over from the notational practice of late-Medieval and Renaissance music, where it signified tempus imperfectum diminutum (diminished imperfect time)—more precisely, a doubling of the speed, or proportio dupla, in duple meter. [5] In modern notation, it is used in place of 2
    2
    and is called alla breve or, colloquially, cut time or cut common time.
<i>Alla breve</i> time signature in Western music notation

Alla breve[alla ˈbrɛːve]—also known as cut time or cut common time— is a musical meter notated by the time signature symbol , which is the equivalent of 2
2
. The term is Italian for "on the breve", originally meaning that the beat was counted on the breve.

Compound

In compound meter, subdivisions (which are what the upper number represents in these meters) of the beat are in three equal parts, so that a dotted note (half again longer than a regular note) becomes the beat. The upper numeral of compound time signatures is commonly 3, 6, 9, or 12 (multiples of 3 in each beat). The lower number is most commonly an 8 (an eighth-note or quaver): as in 9
8
or 12
8
.

Examples

In the examples below, bold denotes a more-stressed beat, and italics denotes a less-stressed beat.

Simple: 3
4
is a simple triple meter time signature that represents three quarter notes (crotchets). It is felt as

3
4
: one and two and three and ...

Compound: In principle, 6
8
comprises not three groups of two eighth notes (quavers) but two groups of three eighth-note (quaver) subdivisions. It is felt as

6
8
: one two three four five six ...

These examples assume, for simplicity, that continuous eighth notes are the prevailing note values. The rhythm of actual music is typically not as regular.

Duple, triple, etc.

Time signatures indicating two beats per bar (whether in simple or compound meter) are called duple meter, while those with three beats to the bar are triple meter. Terms such as quadruple (4), quintuple (5), and so on, are also occasionally used.

Beating time signatures

To the ear, a bar may seem like one singular beat. For example, a fast waltz, notated in 3
4
time, may be described as being one in a bar. Correspondingly, at slow tempos, the beat indicated by the time signature could in actual performance be divided into smaller units.

On a formal mathematical level, the time signatures of, e.g., 3
4
and 3
8
are interchangeable. In a sense, all simple triple time signatures, such as 3
8
, 3
4
, 3
2
, etc.—and all compound duple times, such as 6
8
, 6
16
and so on, are equivalent. A piece in 3
4
can be easily rewritten in 3
8
, simply by halving the length of the notes.

Time signature

Other time signature rewritings are possible: most commonly a simple time signature with triplets translates into a compound meter.

Time signature

Though formally interchangeable, for a composer or performing musician, by convention, different time signatures often have different connotations. First, a smaller note value in the beat unit implies a more complex notation, which can affect ease of performance. Second, beaming affects the choice of actual beat divisions. It is, for example, more natural to use the quarter note/crotchet as a beat unit in 6
4
or 2
2
than the eight/quaver in 6
8
or 2
4
. [ citation needed ] Third, time signatures are traditionally associated with different music styles—it might seem strange to notate a rock tune in 4
8
or 4
2
.

Characteristics

The table below shows the characteristics of the most frequently-used time signatures.

Simple time signatures
Time signatureCommon usesSimple drum patternVideo representation
4
4
or Commontime.svg

(quadruple)

Common time: Widely used in most forms of Western popular music. Most common time signature in rock, blues, country, funk, and pop [6]
Time signature
2
2
or Allabreve.svg

(duple)

Alla breve , cut time: Used for marches and fast orchestral music. Frequently occurs in musical theater. The same effect is sometimes obtained by marking a 4
4
meter "in 2"
Time signature
2
4

(duple)

Used for polkas, galops, and marches
Time signature
3
4

(triple)

Used for waltzes, minuets, scherzi, polonaises, mazurkas, country & western ballads, R&B, sometimes used in pop
Time signature
3
8

(triple)

Also used for the above but usually suggests higher tempo or shorter hypermeter
Time signature
Compound time signatures
Time signatureCommon usesSimple drum patternVideo representation
6
8

(duple)

Double jigs, polkas,sega, salegy, tarantella, marches, barcarolles, loures, and some rock music
Time signature
9
8

(triple)

Compound triple time: Used in triple ("slip") jigs, otherwise occurring rarely ("The Ride of the Valkyries", Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, and the final movement of J.S. Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor (BWV 1041) [7] are familiar examples. Debussy's "Clair de lune" and the opening bars of Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune are also in 9
8
)
Time signature
12
8

(quadruple)

Also common in slower blues (where it is called a shuffle ) and doo-wop; also used more recently in rock music. Can also be heard in some jigs like "The Irish Washerwoman". This is also the time signature of the second movement of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony .
Time signature

Complex time signatures

Signatures that do not fit the usual duple or triple categories are called complex, asymmetric, irregular, unusual, or odd—though these are broad terms, and usually a more specific description is appropriate.[ citation needed ] The term odd meter, however, sometimes describes time signatures in which the upper number is simply odd rather than even, including 3
4
and 9
8
. [8]

The irregular meters (not fitting duple or triple categories) are common in some non-Western music, but rarely appeared in formal written Western music until the 19th century. Early anomalous examples appeared in Spain between 1516 and 1520, [8] but the Delphic Hymns to Apollo (one by Athenaeus is entirely in quintuple meter, the other by Limenius predominantly so), carved on the exterior walls of the Athenian Treasury at Delphi in 128 BC are in the relatively common cretic meter, with five beats to a foot. [9]

The third movement of Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 1 (1828) is an early, but by no means the earliest, example of 5
4
time in solo piano music. Anton Reicha's Fugue No. 20 from his Thirty-six Fugues , published in 1803, is also for piano and is in 5
8
. The waltz-like second movement of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony (shown below), often described as a "limping waltz", [10] is a notable example of 5
4
time in orchestral music.

Time signature

Examples from 20th-century classical music include:

In the Western popular music tradition, unusual time signatures occur as well, with progressive rock in particular making frequent use of them. The use of shifting meters in The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" and the use of quintuple meter in their "Within You, Without You" are well-known examples, [11] as is Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" (includes 7
8
). [12]

Paul Desmond's jazz composition "Take Five", in 5
4
time, was one of a number of irregular-meter compositions that The Dave Brubeck Quartet played. They played other compositions in 11
4
("Eleven Four"), 7
4
("Unsquare Dance"), and 9
8
("Blue Rondo à la Turk"), expressed as 2+2+2+3
8
. This last is an example of a work in a signature that, despite appearing merely compound triple, is actually more complex. Brubeck's title refers to the characteristic aksak meter of the Turkish karşılama dance. [13]

However, such time signatures are only unusual in most Western music. Traditional music of the Balkans uses such meters extensively. Bulgarian dances, for example, include forms with 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 22, 25 and other numbers of beats per measure. These rhythms are notated as additive rhythms based on simple units, usually 2, 3 and 4 beats, though the notation fails to describe the metric "time bending" taking place, or compound meters. See Additive meters below.

Some video samples are shown below.

5
4
at 60 bpm
7
4
at 60 bpm
11
4
at 60 bpm

Mixed meters

While time signatures usually express a regular pattern of beat stresses continuing through a piece (or at least a section), sometimes composers place a different time signature at the beginning of each bar, resulting in music with an extremely irregular rhythmic feel. In this case, the time signatures are an aid to the performers and not necessarily an indication of meter. The Promenade from Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (1874) is a good example. The opening measures are shown below:

Time signature

Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1913) is famous for its "savage" rhythms. Five measures from "Sacrificial Dance" are shown below:

Time signature

In such cases, a convention that some composers follow (e.g., Olivier Messiaen, in his La Nativité du Seigneur and Quatuor pour la fin du temps ) is to simply omit the time signature. Charles Ives's Concord Sonata has measure bars for select passages, but the majority of the work is unbarred.

Some pieces have no time signature, as there is no discernible meter. This is sometimes known as free time. Sometimes one is provided (usually 4
4
) so that the performer finds the piece easier to read, and simply has "free time" written as a direction. Sometimes the word FREE is written downwards on the staff to indicate the piece is in free time. Erik Satie wrote many compositions that are ostensibly in free time but actually follow an unstated and unchanging simple time signature. Later composers used this device more effectively, writing music almost devoid of a discernibly regular pulse.

If two time signatures alternate repeatedly, sometimes the two signatures are placed together at the beginning of the piece or section, as shown below:

Detail of score of Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 2 in F major, showing a multiple time signature Tchaikovsky String Quartet in F excerpt.png
Detail of score of Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 2 in F major, showing a multiple time signature

Additive meters

To indicate more complex patterns of stresses, such as additive rhythms, more complex time signatures can be used. Additive meters have a pattern of beats that subdivide into smaller, irregular groups. Such meters are sometimes called imperfect, in contrast to perfect meters, in which the bar is first divided into equal units. [14]

For example, the time signature 3+2+3
8
means that there are 8 quaver beats in the bar, divided as the first of a group of three eighth notes (quavers) that are stressed, then the first of a group of two, then first of a group of three again. The stress pattern is usually counted as

3+2+3
8
: one two three one two one two three ...

This kind of time signature is commonly used to notate folk and non-Western types of music. In classical music, Béla Bartók and Olivier Messiaen have used such time signatures in their works. The first movement of Maurice Ravel's Piano Trio in A Minor is written in 8
8
, in which the beats are likewise subdivided into 3+2+3 to reflect Basque dance rhythms.

Romanian musicologist Constantin Brăiloiu had a special interest in compound time signatures, developed while studying the traditional music of certain regions in his country. While investigating the origins of such unusual meters, he learned that they were even more characteristic of the traditional music of neighboring peoples (e.g., the Bulgarians). He suggested that such timings can be regarded as compounds of simple two-beat and three-beat meters, where an accent falls on every first beat, even though, for example in Bulgarian music, beat lengths of 1, 2, 3, 4 are used in the metric description. In addition, when focused only on stressed beats, simple time signatures can count as beats in a slower, compound time. However, there are two different-length beats in this resulting compound time, a one half-again longer than the short beat (or conversely, the short beat is 23 the value of the long). This type of meter is called aksak (the Turkish word for "limping"), impeded, jolting, or shaking, and is described as an irregular bichronic rhythm. A certain amount of confusion for Western musicians is inevitable, since a measure they would likely regard as 7
16
, for example, is a three-beat measure in aksak, with one long and two short beats (with subdivisions of 2+2+3, 2+3+2, or 3+2+2). [15]

Folk music may make use of metric time bends, so that the proportions of the performed metric beat time lengths differ from the exact proportions indicated by the metric. Depending on playing style of the same meter, the time bend can vary from non-existent to considerable; in the latter case, some musicologists may want to assign a different meter. For example, the Bulgarian tune "Eleno Mome" is written in one of three forms: (1) 7 = 2+2+1+2, (2) 13 = 4+4+2+3, or (3) 12 = 3+4+2+3, but an actual performance (e.g., Smithsonian Eleno Mome) may be closer to 4+4+2+3. The Macedonian 3+2+2+3+2 meter is even more complicated, with heavier time bends, and use of quadruples on the threes. The metric beat time proportions may vary with the speed that the tune is played. The Swedish Boda Polska (Polska from the parish Boda) has a typical elongated second beat.

In Western classical music, metric time bend is used in the performance of the Viennese Waltz. Most Western music uses metric ratios of 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1 (two-, three- or four-beat time signatures)—in other words, integer ratios that make all beats equal in time length. So, relative to that, 3:2 and 4:3 ratios correspond to very distinctive metric rhythm profiles. Complex accentuation occurs in Western music, but as syncopation rather than as part of the metric accentuation.[ citation needed ]

Brăiloiu borrowed a term from Turkish medieval music theory: aksak. Such compound time signatures fall under the "aksak rhythm" category that he introduced along with a couple more that should describe the rhythm figures in traditional music. [16] The term Brăiloiu revived had moderate success worldwide, but in Eastern Europe it is still frequently used. However, aksak rhythm figures occur not only in a few European countries, but on all continents, featuring various combinations of the two and three sequences. The longest are in Bulgaria. The shortest aksak rhythm figures follow the five-beat timing, comprising a two and a three (or three and two).

Some video samples are shown below.

3+2+3
8
at 120 bpm
The rhythm of Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo à la Turk": It consists of three measures of 2+2+2+3 followed by one measure of 3+3+3 and the cycle then repeats. Taking the smallest time unit as eighth notes, the arrows on the tempo dial show the tempi for ♪, ♩, ♩. and the measure beat. Starts slow, speeds up to usual tempo

A method to create meters of lengths of any length has been published in the Journal of Anaphoria Music Theory [17] And Xenharmonikon 16 [18] using both those based on the Horograms of Erv Wilson and Viggo Brun's algorithm written by Kraig Grady.

Irrational meters

Time signature
Example of an irrational 4
3
time signature: here there are four (4) third notes (3) per measure. A "third note" would be one third of a whole note, and thus is a half-note triplet. The second measure of 4
2
presents the same notes, so the 4
3
time signature serves to indicate the precise speed relationship between the notes in the two measures.

Irrational time signatures (rarely, "non-dyadic time signatures") are used for so-called irrational bar lengths, [19] that have a denominator that is not a power of two (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.). These are based on beats expressed in terms of fractions of full beats in the prevailing tempo—for example 3
10
or 5
24
. [19] For example, where 4
4
implies a bar construction of four quarter-parts of a whole note (i.e., four quarter notes), 4
3
implies a bar construction of four third-parts of it. These signatures are of utility only when juxtaposed with other signatures with varying denominators; a piece written entirely in 4
3
, say, could be more legibly written out in 4
4
.

Time signature
The same example written using metric modulation instead of irrational time signatures. Three half notes in the first measure (making up a dotted whole note) are equal in duration to two half notes in the second (making up a whole note).
Time signature
The same example written using a change in time signature.

According to Brian Ferneyhough, metric modulation is "a somewhat distant analogy" to his own use of "irrational time signatures" as a sort of rhythmic dissonance. [19] It is arguable whether the use of these signatures makes metric relationships clearer or more obscure to the musician; it is always possible to write a passage using non-irrational signatures by specifying a relationship between some note length in the previous bar and some other in the succeeding one. Sometimes, successive metric relationships between bars are so convoluted that the pure use of irrational signatures would quickly render the notation extremely hard to penetrate. Good examples, written entirely in conventional signatures with the aid of between-bar specified metric relationships, occur a number of times in John Adams' opera Nixon in China (1987), where the sole use of irrational signatures would quickly produce massive numerators and denominators.[ citation needed ]

Historically, this device has been prefigured wherever composers wrote tuplets. For example, a 2
4
bar of 3 triplet crotchets could arguably be written as a bar of 3
6
. Henry Cowell's piano piece Fabric (1920) employs separate divisions of the bar (anything from 1 to 9) for the three contrapuntal parts, using a scheme of shaped noteheads to visually clarify the differences, but the pioneering of these signatures is largely due to Brian Ferneyhough, who says that he finds that "such 'irrational' measures serve as a useful buffer between local changes of event density and actual changes of base tempo". [19] Thomas Adès has also used them extensively—for example in Traced Overhead (1996), the second movement of which contains, among more conventional meters, bars in such signatures as 2
6
, 9
14
and 5
24
.

A gradual process of diffusion into less rarefied musical circles seems underway.[ citation needed ] For example, John Pickard's Eden, commissioned for the 2005 finals of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain contains bars of 3
10
and 7
12
. [20]

Notationally, rather than using Cowell's elaborate series of notehead shapes, the same convention has been invoked as when normal tuplets are written; for example, one beat in 4
5
is written as a normal quarter note, four quarter notes complete the bar, but the whole bar lasts only 45 of a reference whole note, and a beat 15 of one (or 45 of a normal quarter note). This is notated in exactly the same way that one would write if one were writing the first four quarter notes of five quintuplet quarter notes.

Some video samples are shown below.

These video samples show two time signatures combined to make a polymeter, since 4
3
, say, in isolation, is identical to 4
4
.

Polymeter 4
4
and 4
3
played together has three beats of 4
3
to four beats of 4
4
Polymeter 2
6
and 3
4
played together has six beats of 2
6
to four beats of 3
4
Polymeter 2
5
and 2
3
played together has five beats of 2
5
to three beats of 2
3
. The displayed numbers count the underlying polyrhythm, which is 5:3

Variants

Some composers have used fractional beats: for example, the time signature 2 12
4
appears in Carlos Chávez's Piano Sonata No. 3 (1928) IV, m. 1.

Example of Orff's time signatures Orff time signatures.gif
Example of Orff's time signatures

Music educator Carl Orff proposed replacing the lower number of the time signature with an actual note image, as shown at right. This system eliminates the need for compound time signatures, which are confusing to beginners. While this notation has not been adopted by music publishers generally (except in Orff's own compositions), it is used extensively in music education textbooks. Similarly, American composers George Crumb and Joseph Schwantner, among others, have used this system in many of their works.

Another possibility is to extend the barline where a time change is to take place above the top instrument's line in a score and to write the time signature there, and there only, saving the ink and effort that would have been spent writing it in each instrument's staff. Henryk Górecki's Beatus Vir is an example of this. Alternatively, music in a large score sometimes has time signatures written as very long, thin numbers covering the whole height of the score rather than replicating it on each staff; this is an aid to the conductor, who can see signature changes more easily.

Early music usage

Mensural time signatures

In the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period in which mensural notation was used, four basic mensuration signs determined the proportion between the two main units of rhythm. There were no measure or bar lines in music of this period; these signs, the ancestors of modern time signatures, indicate the ratio of duration between different note values. The relation between the breve and the semibreve was called tempus, and the relation between the semibreve and the minim was called prolatio. The breve and the semibreve use roughly the same symbols as our modern double whole note (breve) and whole note (semibreve), but they were not limited to the same proportional values as are in use today. There are complicated rules concerning how a breve is sometimes three and sometimes two semibreves. Unlike modern notation, the duration ratios between these different values was not always 2:1; it could be either 2:1 or 3:1, and that is what, amongst other things, these mensuration signs indicated. A ratio of 3:1 was called complete, perhaps a reference to the Trinity, and a ratio of 2:1 was called incomplete.

A circle used as a mensuration sign indicated tempus perfectum (a circle being a symbol of completeness), while an incomplete circle, resembling a letter C, indicated tempus imperfectum. Assuming the breve is a beat, this corresponds to the modern concepts of triple meter and duple meter, respectively. In either case, a dot in the center indicated prolatio perfecta (compound meter) while the absence of such a dot indicated prolatio imperfecta (simple meter).

A rough equivalence of these signs to modern meters would be:

N.B.: in modern compound meters the beat is a dotted note value, such as a dotted quarter, because the ratios of the modern note value hierarchy are always 2:1. Dotted notes were never used in this way in the mensural period; the main beat unit was always a simple (undotted) note value.

Proportions

Another set of signs in mensural notation specified the metric proportions of one section to another, similar to a metric modulation. A few common signs are shown: [21]

Often the ratio was expressed as two numbers, one above the other, [22] looking similar to a modern time signature, though it could have values such as 4
3
, which a conventional time signature could not.

Some proportional signs were not used consistently from one place or century to another. In addition, certain composers delighted in creating "puzzle" compositions that were intentionally difficult to decipher. [23]

In particular, when the sign Allabreve.svg was encountered, the tactus (beat) changed from the usual whole note (semibreve) to the double whole note (breve), a circumstance called alla breve. This term has been sustained to the present day, and though now it means the beat is a half note (minim), in contradiction to the literal meaning of the phrase, it still indicates that the beat has changed to a longer note value.

See also

Related Research Articles

Metre (music) aspect of music

In music, metre refers to the regularly recurring patterns and accents such as bars and beats. Unlike rhythm, metric onsets are not necessarily sounded, but are nevertheless expected by the listener.

Quarter note musical note duration

A quarter note (American) or crotchet (British) is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note. Often, musicians will say that a crotchet is one beat, but this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music; a quarter note may or may not be the beat. Quarter notes are notated with a filled-in oval note head and a straight, flagless stem. The stem usually points upwards if it is below the middle line of the stave or downwards if it is on or above the middle line. However, the stem direction may differentiate more than one part. The head of the note also reverses its orientation in relation to the stem.

Whole note musical note duration

In music, a whole note (American) or semibreve (British) is a note represented by a hollow oval note head and no note stem. Its length is equal to four beats in 4
4
time, that is the whole 4
4
measure. Most other notes are fractions of the whole note.

Eighth note musical note duration

An eighth note (American) or a quaver (British) is a musical note played for one eighth the duration of whole note (semibreve), hence the name. This amounts to twice the value of the sixteenth note (semiquaver). It is half the duration of a quarter note (crotchet), one quarter the duration of a half note (minim), one eighth the duration of whole note (semibreve), one sixteenth the duration of a double whole note (breve), and one thirty-second the duration of a longa. It is the equivalent of the fusa in mensural notation

Polyrhythm simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms

Polyrhythm is the simultaneous use of two or more rhythms that are not readily perceived as deriving from one another, or as simple manifestations of the same meter. The rhythmic conflict may be the basis of an entire piece of music (cross-rhythm), or a momentary disruption. Polyrhythms can be distinguished from irrational rhythms, which can occur within the context of a single part; polyrhythms require at least two rhythms to be played concurrently, one of which is typically an irrational rhythm. Concurrently in this context means within the same rhythmic cycle. The underlying pulse, whether explicit or implicit can be considered one of the concurrent rhythms. For example, the son clave is poly-rhythmic because its 3 section suggests a different meter from the pulse of the entire pattern.

Double whole note musical note duration

In music, a double whole note (American), breve (international), or double note is a note lasting two times as long as a whole note. It is the second-longest note value still in use in modern music notation.

In music, the terms additive and divisive are used to distinguish two types of both rhythm and meter:

In music, a tuplet is "any rhythm that involves dividing the beat into a different number of equal subdivisions from that usually permitted by the time-signature ". This is indicated by a number, indicating the fraction involved. The notes involved are also often grouped with a bracket or a slur.

A rest is a musical notation sign that indicates the absence of a sound.

In music, an accent is an emphasis, stress, or stronger attack placed on a particular note or set of notes, or chord, either as a result of its context or specifically indicated by an accent mark. Accents contribute to the articulation and prosody of a performance of a musical phrase. Accents may be written into a score or part by a composer or added by the performer as part of his or her interpretation of a musical piece. By default, in the music notation program Sibelius, "accents boost the dynamic by 50%."

Mensural notation musical notation system used for European vocal polyphonic music

Mensural notation is the musical notation system used for European vocal polyphonic music from the later part of the 13th century until about 1600. The term "mensural" refers to the ability of this system to describe precisely measured rhythmic durations in terms of numerical proportions between note values. Its modern name is inspired by the terminology of medieval theorists, who used terms like musica mensurata or cantus mensurabilis to refer to the rhythmically defined polyphonic music of their age, as opposed to musica plana or musica choralis, i.e., Gregorian plainchant. Mensural notation was employed principally for compositions in the tradition of vocal polyphony, whereas plainchant retained its own, older system of neume notation throughout the period. Besides these, some purely instrumental music could be written in various forms of instrument-specific tablature notation.

Sextuple metre or sextuple time is a musical metre characterized by six beats in a measure. The beats most commonly have the pattern strong-weak-weak-medium-weak-weak, though this is not the only possibility. Like the more common duple, triple, and quadruple metres, it may be simple, with each beat divided in half, or compound, with each beat divided into thirds. The most common time signatures for simple sextuple metre are 6
4
and 6
8
, and compound sextuple metre is most often written in 18
8
or 18
16
. A time signature of 18
8
or 18
16
, however, does not necessarily mean that the bar is a sextuple metre with each beat divided into three. It may, for example, be used to indicate a bar of triple metre in which each beat is subdivided into six parts. In this case, the metre is sometimes characterized as "triple sextuple time". Such a division of time may be encountered more frequently in the Baroque period: for example, variation 26 of the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach has 18
16
in one hand against 3
4
in the other, exchanging hands at intervals until the last five bars where both hands are in 18
16
. Using 3
4
for both hands would result in continuous sextuplets.

The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538, is an organ piece by Johann Sebastian Bach. Like the better-known BWV 565, BWV 538 also bears the title Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, although it is often referred to by the nickname Dorian – a reference to the fact that the piece is written without a key signature – a notation that is uncommon today and leads one to assume the Dorian mode.

Footprints (composition)

"Footprints" is a jazz standard composed by saxophonist Wayne Shorter, first appearing on his 1966 album Adam's Apple. Another well-known recorded version, also featuring Shorter, is on the 1966 Miles Davis album Miles Smiles. It has become a jazz standard.

Half-time (music) type of metric change in music, that doubles the tempo resolution or metric division, in comparison to common-time

In popular music, half-time is a type of meter and tempo that alters the rhythmic feel by essentially doubling the tempo resolution or metric division/level in comparison to common-time. Thus, two measures of 4
4
approximate a single measure of 8
8
, while a single measure of 4/4 emulates 2/2. Half-time is not to be confused with alla breve or odd time. Though notes usually get the same value relative to the tempo, the way the beats are divided is altered. While much music typically has a backbeat on quarter note (crotchet) beats two and four, half time would increase the interval between backbeats to double, thus making it hit on beats three and seven, or the third beat of each measure :

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

In medieval music theory, the Latin term modus can be used in a variety of distinct senses. The most commonly used meaning today relates to the organisation of pitch in scales. Other meanings refer to the notation of rhythms.

Takadimi is a system devised by Richard Hoffman, William Pelto, and John W. White in 1996 in order to teach rhythm skills. Takadimi, while utilizing rhythmic symbols borrowed from classical South Indian carnatic music, differentiates itself from this method by focusing the syllables on meter and on western tonal rhythm. Takadimi is based on the use of specific syllables at certain places within a beat. Takadimi is used in classrooms from elementary level up through the collegiate level, and it meets National Content Standard 5 by teaching both reading and notating music.

References

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  7. See File:Bach BVW 1041 Allegro Assai.png for an excerpt from the violin part of the final movement.
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  22. Willi Apel, The Notation of Polyphonic Music 900–1600, fifth edition, revised with commentary; The Medieval Academy of America Publication no. 38 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Mediaeval Academy of America, 1953), p. 147.
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