Time Signatures: "blanket rules" regarding meter + related question (in CAPS at bottom)

jda

Gold Member
Time signatures do not dictate tempo.... ever.
wait a second ..you mean 7/8 and 7/4 is not if not dictate but imply what thee tempo is going to be?
I've never heard but could be a Slow really slow..7/8
Lemme think about that..
7/16 7/8 7/4
kinda does imply what speed is coming.no?
or else why bother with the bottom Number..

and if 7/2 well, it's going to be a dirge!

Time signatures are a Composers tool decision-choice -to allow the written notes to be easily read and not be a solid black page' of crowded notes, Maybe..
merely. (or the converse. notes not stretched across entire (blank space..measures..

.. a balance of compositional time
a time decision
So there are tempo considerations regarding Time signature
ye?
Time signatures are a compositional marker
guardrail guardrail

this post of mine was in 13/4 by the way a real drag.
I promise a 9/8 next.. time. (<-pun)
 
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Huw Owens

Active Member
wait a second ..you mean 7/8 and 7/4 is not if not dictate but imply what thee tempo is going to be?
I've never heard but could be a Slow really slow..7/8
Lemme think about that..
7/16 7/8 7/4
kinda does imply what speed is coming.no?
or else why bother with the bottom Number..

and if 7/2 well, it's going to be a dirge!

Time signatures are a Composers tool decision-choice -to allow the written notes to be easily read and not be a solid black page' of crowded notes, Maybe..
merely. (or the converse. notes not stretched across entire (blank space..measures..

.. a balance of compositional time
a time decision
So there are tempo considerations regarding Time signature
ye?
Time signatures are a compositional marker
guardrail guardrail

this post of mine was in 13/4 by the way a real drag.
I promise a 9/8 next.. time. (<-pun)

Within a piece of music time signature changes are relative. So yes, a phrase in 7/8 will be twice as fast as a phrase in 7/4 (unless there is an indication otherwise).

But to compare two separate pieces, one written in 7/8, the other written in 7/4, you can't be certain of their relative speeds without there being a tempo indicated (preferably in bpm).

:)
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Todd - we can agree to disagree on a lot of this - but are you saying that you are really unaware that the bottom number represents the "notational beat" not the "foot tap beat" and that the top number represents the number of those "notational beats". Whether you consider that definition useful or not is really neither here nor there... because it is THE definition.... the one that has been in place for a few hundred years. The rule that allows to understand what Bach wrote and what Zappa write.

Some people make that distinction, I don't. I think it's sloppy theory.

There's that sloppy definition of time signature that says "top number = number of beats, bottom number = what value gets the beat", where "beat" refers to the conducted beat in 4/4, but refers to a subdivision in 6/8. Not everyone uses that definition-- my Oxford dictionary of music, for one, avoids the word beat there. It says "units of measure." I say pulses.

In fact I don't know what you mean by notational beat, if it's something other than "that's the word we're using for the numbers in the time signature."

You and anyone else can use the word "beat" however you want - but where it comes to time signatures, it has long been defined as I outlined. It is literally how we can have fast 6/8!!!

I don't follow. I don't think we disagree on what a time signature is? Except you're insisting on using the word beat, and I'm insisting on not using it.

And you do understand - that with any meter, the players and/or the conductor can "foot tap" on something other than the written beat. We often tap a medium to fast 6/8 in 2... we also will tap a slow 6/8 in 6. The foot tap beat is ALWAYS dependent on tempo.... which has nothing at all to do with the time signature..... Time signatures do not dictate tempo.... ever.

I don't know what this is in response to-- not sure what you think I'm saying.

And yes, there's nothing wrong with explaining things to students - but IMO this music analysis approach - and it's near endless jargon - ends up confusing as many people as it helps.

It's definitely confusing when we use the same word to refer to two different things in the same context.

I avoid jargon when talking about it. I say straight 8th and triplet feel in place of simple and compound, and counted in # in place of duple/triple/etc.

The only reason I refer to simple/compound/etc is to point out that it's not something I made up, that it's supported by theory.
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
Also - seriously.... not that weird. I've been asked to negotiate far weirder stuff than that. Show music, commercials, film cues... not even remotely esoteric stuff. Did you try and imagine what that might sound like in your head - fast samba to slow 3/4 shuffle and back again?? It's actually remarkably straight forward - and not unlike things that happen all the time (in non-straight song situations). And frankly, I can't imagine a more bullet proof way of writing it. Unless the samba could be written in 16ths - which sometimes is a good idea and sometimes not. But that would still leave us with 9/4 for the slow 3, which isn't much more accessible than the 9/2.

Personally I found it fascinating - I almost just went and wrote some music to it and mocked it up - (but I guess that would've been an even greater waste of time)

No, I see what it is. Maybe it's not a terrible way of writing it if I only have to look at a couple of bars of that. If it were going to be a longer passage, with anything more complicated than "play time" involved, I would want to see something more conventional looking. Like 9/8 with a [half note] = [8th note] marking.

You're involved with a lot more heavy reading than I am, I guess.
 

jda

Gold Member
So yes, a phrase in 7/8 will be twice as fast as a phrase in 7/4
nothing I said lol. I didn't use your word "twice" to compare one against the other. it could be a fractional difference. I said what you see in a time signature gives a hint of what's coming obvious sometimes with further direction.
 
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Huw Owens

Active Member
nothing I said lol. I didn't (use your word "twice") precisely compare one against the other. it could be a fractional difference. I said what you see in a time signature gives a hint of what's to be until you get further direction

Apologies if I misunderstood your post.

🙂
 
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jda

Gold Member
You got it Huw!
Just gotta watch every word in this thread You'll get 🙏🙏 (cruci..
 
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MattRitter

Senior Member
Every time one of these threads come up, I always wonder the same thing:

How can there be so much heated disagreement about something that is documented almost exactly the same way in numerous serious textbooks?

These threads always end up going down this route...with multiple pages of people arguing about the meaning of established terminology, and even coming up with their own terminology!

Several years ago, in a thread like this, I literally went to my bookshelf and posted direct quotations from numerous classic texts...and that STILL didn't resolve anything. These days, I wouldn't bother going that far. However, a few pages ago, I did list just a few textbooks to assist the original poster as well as anyone else who might be interested.

Like I said a few sentences ago, I can't help but wonder how a 4-page argument can come about regarding concepts and terminology that are already documented (in the textbooks that I listed as well as countless others). I'm not trying to be humorous or sarcastic. I sincerely am trying to understand how this can occur so frequently.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
Every time one of these threads come up, I always wonder the same thing:

How can there be so much heated disagreement about something that is documented almost exactly the same way in numerous serious textbooks?

These threads always end up going down this route...with multiple pages of people arguing about the meaning of established terminology, and even coming up with their own terminology!

Several years ago, in a thread like this, I literally went to my bookshelf and posted direct quotations from numerous classic texts...and that STILL didn't resolve anything. These days, I wouldn't bother going that far. However, a few pages ago, I did list just a few textbooks to assist the original poster as well as anyone else who might be interested.

Like I said a few sentences ago, I can't help but wonder how a 4-page argument can come about regarding concepts and terminology that are already documented (in the textbooks that I listed as well as countless others). I'm not trying to be humorous or sarcastic. I sincerely am trying to understand how this can occur so frequently.
Because of the amount of BS readily available on the internet.
 

Doraemon

Well-known Member
Many people these days learn stuff from websites and youtube, or think their favorite personality or neighbor knows it best, because he can use weird terminology, he is old, or was on TV once. Same for most scientific knowledge - any example would turn this into a 30-page topic, lol.
 

jda

Gold Member
yea well 30 page Topics can be on "how many lugs should a 4x14 snare have?" threads.

This thread at least has Musical implication and. Is. Good.
"Best Cymbal stand under $80" goes on for weeks and months..
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Every time one of these threads come up, I always wonder the same thing:

How can there be so much heated disagreement about something that is documented almost exactly the same way in numerous serious textbooks?

These threads always end up going down this route...with multiple pages of people arguing about the meaning of established terminology, and even coming up with their own terminology!

Several years ago, in a thread like this, I literally went to my bookshelf and posted direct quotations from numerous classic texts...and that STILL didn't resolve anything. These days, I wouldn't bother going that far. However, a few pages ago, I did list just a few textbooks to assist the original poster as well as anyone else who might be interested.

Like I said a few sentences ago, I can't help but wonder how a 4-page argument can come about regarding concepts and terminology that are already documented (in the textbooks that I listed as well as countless others). I'm not trying to be humorous or sarcastic. I sincerely am trying to understand how this can occur so frequently.

Not heated from my end, I'm just talking.

But it's a combination of things-- the main thing is the inconsistency baked into the way time signatures are written. In 4/4 the top number refers to the counted/conducted beat, in 12/8 it refers to a subdivision. Typically! I don't think anyone will disagree with that.

And there's that persistent bad explanation of time signatures-- "the top number is number of beats"-- which creates confusion about what a beat is, and about what those */8 meters are.

And a lot of people talking about it don't have a lot of practical experience reading music, with a conductor-- this is all just pure numbers and jargon from a hypothetical realm, and anything can be anything. It seems hard to them, so they want to help make it hard for everyone.

And people heavily involved in music just have their own views and agendas, reflecting their own experience, and not necessarily following what's in theory books to the letter-- which is fine, and expected.

...plus all the crappy internet BS as jimmym said...
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
The rhythmic system we use is based on :

1. Three basic simple meters. They are called 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4.
2/4 has two binary beats (binary = divisible by 2
3/4 has three binary beats
4/4 has four binary beats
1666456720817.png
2. Three basic compound meters. They are called 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8.
6/8 has two ternary beats (ternary = divisible by 3)
9/8 has three ternary beats
12/8 has four ternary beats
1666457215078.png



Look at the images, they show basic representations of these meters and how they are counted.
There are many other meters and time signatures, but what I show here is basic info every musician should understand before trying to get more complicated stuff.

If you're always been told that 6/8 has 6 beats and/or is counted in six, it just means that you've always been told wrong.
 

Doraemon

Well-known Member
If the bottom number is 8, and the top number is divisible by 3, then yes, it usually is a compound meter.
Except for 3/8 (e.g. Für Elise) which is simple. Or 9/16 which is compound, but has no 8 in the bottom.

and finally, to me, "compound" time is when you mix groupings of 3 and 2 subdivisions. 7/8 is a very popular exammple of thhis:

7/8 ---> 7 pulses in a measure; the 8th note visually represents the pulse. Counted 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. Often times felt as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 <--- 2 "duple" groupings and one "triple" grouping. To me that is compound.
looks like you made up your own...

duple / triple / quadruple (/ odd) - means the number of beats or pulses in a bar
simple / compound means if the beats can be divided evenly vs into triplets.
3/4, 3/8: simple triple that you count as 1 2 3 (triple: numbers go up to 3)
C: simple quadruple 1 2 3 4
6/8 compound duple: 1&a 2&a (duple: numbers go up to 2, compound: beats divided three-way)
9/8 compound triple: 1&a 2&a 3&a (triple: you count to 3)

irregular/complex/odd meters are those that are not duple(2) triple(3) quadruple(4) pulse, like 5/4 or 7/8

You can count or feel groupings within 7/8 various ways depending on the song, it could be 4+3, 5+2 or whatever, but this is not what the compound meter means in music theory (it refers to triplet subdivision). I think "additive meter" might be the term for what you're describing.

3/4 = simple triple: 1 & 2 & 3 &
6/8 = compound duple: 1 & a 2 & a
Etc...

Simple means the main pulse subdivided evenly, into an entire note of whatever duration, in this case an entire crotchet.

Compound means the subdivision is by dotted notes. In this case a dotted crotchet.

Simple means a two count, triple means a three count, etc. It refers to the main beat, not the subdivision.
THIS.

I wonder if the confusion comes from the top number in compound meter not being the number of beats, but number of subdivisions....
 
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JimmyM

Platinum Member
Except for 3/8 (e.g. Für Elise) which is simple. Or 9/16 which is compound, but has no 8 in the bottom.


looks like you made up your own...

duple / triple / quadruple (/ odd) - means the number of beats or pulses in a bar
simple / compound means if the beats can be divided evenly vs into triplets.
3/4, 3/8: simple triple that you count as 1 2 3 (triple: numbers go up to 3)
C: simple quadruple 1 2 3 4
6/8 compound duple: 1&a 2&a (duple: numbers go up to 2, compound: beats divided three-way)
9/8 compound triple: 1&a 2&a 3&a (triple: you count to 3)

irregular/complex/odd meters are those that are not duple(2) triple(3) quadruple(4) pulse, like 5/4 or 7/8

You can count or feel groupings within 7/8 various ways depending on the song, it could be 4+3, 5+2 or whatever, but this is not what the compound meter means in music theory (it refers to triplet subdivision). I think "additive meter" might be the term for what you're describing.


THIS.

I wonder if the confusion comes from the top number in compound meter not being the number of beats, but number of subdivisions....
Maybe. But really, how often does music get this complicated in 6/8 or 12/8 where you have to guess at what the pulse is? A song like At Last has 8th note pulses, a fast blues swing or shuffle has dotted quarter note pulses. Seems dead simple to me. And most of the time, swings and shuffles are written in 4/4 with a swing or shuffle notation.
 

Doraemon

Well-known Member
Maybe. But really, how often does music get this complicated in 6/8 or 12/8 where you have to guess at what the pulse is? A song like At Last has 8th note pulses, a fast blues swing or shuffle has dotted quarter note pulses. Seems dead simple to me. And most of the time, swings and shuffles are written in 4/4 with a swing or shuffle notation.
There are cases when people simplify notation, sometimes you don't even notate things just say it on the top of the page. Nothing's wrong with that. The OP was about teaching music theory though. What is simple or useful largely depends on the genre and instrument, too.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
There are cases when people simplify notation, sometimes you don't even notate things just say it on the top of the page. Nothing's wrong with that. The OP was about teaching music theory though. What is simple or useful largely depends on the genre and instrument, too.
Writing it on top of the page is what I meant by a notation. Wasn’t as clear as I could have been, which is happening in this thread a lot ;)

But for all their differences, instrument rhythmic notation is pretty much the same, and so are time sigs and tempos.
 

jda

Gold Member
uh-oh the bass player sang!
 
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