Time to look at some proper music!Music is divided up into bars byvertical lines on the stave likethis:This shows you the rhythm of themusic depending on how many beats arein a bar. In this piece there arefour beats in each bar.
The numbers at the start tell you the timesignature, that is the number of beats andwhat length of beats there are in each bar.The most common time signature is 4/4.The top number tells youthere are 4 beats in a barThe bottom number shows that weare counting in 1 beat notes,i.e. the notes in the bar mustbe equal to 4 of these:
So if this were the timeSignature there would be3 beats in a bar:But here we have an 8 at thebottom! This means we’recounting in half beats sothere are actually theequivalent of six of thesein a bar.So technically there are the same number ofbeats as in ¾ but the rhythm is differentbecause they are divided into six.
And if you see a 2 at thebottom then we’re countingin 2-beat notes, so therewill be two of these in abar: - the same numberas in 4/4You can get all sorts of strangetime signatures but the good news isthat it’s much more common to have a4 at the bottom and a 3 or 4 on topso we’re going to stick to that!
So, let’s go back to the 4/4 timesignature we saw earlier. This is themost common which is why it’s alsocalled ‘common time’. Sometimes it’sdenoted with a c-shaped symbol likethis:But it’s still the same thing: 41-beat notes in a bar.
But what difference does it make how thebars are divided up? It’s what gives apiece its rhythm, that’s what! The 1st beatof every bar is the strongest beat so toplay in 4/4 time you have to count likethis:ONE two three four ONE two three fourThere are thousands of songs written in 4/4time but to use a well-known example, thinkof ‘Frere Jacques’:
Fre- re Ja- cques / Fre- re Ja- cques,/Dor- mez vous____?/ Dor- mez vous____?/It fits perfectly into a 4 beat bar:Fre- re Ja- cques, Fre- re Ja- cques, Dor- mez vous? Dor- mez vous?Son-nez les mat-in- es, Son-nez les mat-in- es, Ding dang dong, Ding, dang, dongCan you follow it?
Another common time signature is 3/4 - thisis the time signature that waltzes usuallyuse. So, think of a waltz such as Strauss’‘Blue Danube’ as you count this one:ONE two three ONE two three ONE two threeFor an example with words (to make it easierto follow) think of ‘Oranges and Lemons’:Oran-ges and / le-mons Say the/bells of St/ Cle-ment’s
Or-an-ges and le-mons, say the bells of St Cle-ment’s. Youowe me five far-things, say the bells of St Mar-tins.Hope it’s starting to make sense! There’sjust one more thing to mention...
...that is that you don’t have to start onthe first beat of the bar! Sometimes musichas what’s called an upbeat which meansthere’s a note (or two) leading up to thefirst bar, e.g:Upbeat!
1) Baa baa black sheep2) What shall we do with the drunkensailor?3) Away in a manger4) Hot cross buns5) Amazing graceHave a go at guessing the time signatures ofthese songs – sing the tune (or listen to iton youtube!) and try to count the beats atthe same time. Does it fit better into 3 or 4beats? (Remember, there could be an upbeat ortwo first!)
Answers3/44/4A- way in a-a man-ger, no-o crib for a bed, the-eWhat shall we do with the drunk-en sail- or? What shall we do with the