Time Signature Symbols

What are Time Signature Symbols?

Cut_time_signature Common_time_signature 6-8_time_signature 6-4_time_signature 4-4_time_signature 3-4_time_signature 2-4_time_signature 2-2_time_signature

In music one of the most important symbols found on the page is the time signature. In music the staff is marked off in segments known as measures.  The time signature tells the musician how many beats are in a measure and what particular note gets the beat. Each note has a different number of counts to it, which is determined by the time signature.

The time signature is located at the beginning of the each line of music along with the clef and the key signature. There are several different types of time signatures: simple time, compound time, common time, and cut time. Each is to be deciphered a slightly different way.

A simple time signature has two numbers stacked one on the other much the same way a fraction is written, but with no line separating them. In this type of signature the bottom number represents the note of value, the one that gets the beat. In Three Four time, there is a three on top and a four on bottom. The four represents the quarter note meaning that it will get the beat. The top number, in this case the three, tells the musician how many beats are found in each measure. There are three beats per measure and a quarter note gets the beat.

 


 

A compound time signature is a little different. The signature is still written with two numbers in the same manner as the simple signature but the bottom number represents the value of the subdivision of the beat. The most common of these signatures is Six Eight time. The eight in the time signature represents the eighth note, which is a subdivision of the quarter note. The top number indicates how many of these beats are in a measure, same as in the simple signature.

The common time signature was once considered to be Two Four time, counted the same way a simple signature is. Today, common time is considered to be Four Four time. This is the most common time that music is written in in this day and time. To determine what note gets the beat and how many beats are in a measure you use the same rules as the simple signature.

Cut time signature is a little different. The idea behind cut time is that you take common time and cut it in half. That being said, then cut time is the same as Two Two time. In cut time, the half note get a single beat, whole notes get two beats, and quarter notes get half a beat. Simplest way to remember it is take every note and cut the amount of time it usually receives and cut it in half.
Time signatures are the one of the most important symbols on a sheet of music. It tells the musician how many beats are in a measure and which of the notes gets a single beat.