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Time Signatures and the Beat in Music

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Introduction


To be able to play a piece of music correctly and accurately we need to understand the concept of beat and take it into practice.

The majority of the music we hear every day has a specific beat. The beat is the pulsative pattern that all the music elements follow structure. The kick and snare (drums) normally are responsible to indicate the main beat of the music. However, some pieces of music only consist of some piano notes and vocals, but the overall tempo is steady (normally) and all the notes are on a structure. A musician can analyse the beat of any piece of music unless it's too complicated in some cases.


Note, if you can clap to some songs or also if you can dance to some of your favourite songs it means you can naturally vibe with the beat of the music. In any case by undertaking the timing concept and some suitable practice, you will be able to count the beat and also perform the piano pieces on the beat correctly!


Type of Beats


The main beats that we are going to cover are the most four common ones, although there are a lot more various beats that are used to write music rarely.


1. The most common type of beat is '4/4', therefore it's also called 'The Common Time'. Sometimes you can see the signature 'C' at the beginning of the music line, right after the clefs.

Practice: Let's clap following the numbers below. Counting loud the numbers is very good to help. In the near future, we will see many songs based on this structure. So if you could apply this format to those songs, it means that songs have been written on the common timing time signature.


2. 'March' or '2/4' is the closest time signature to common time. It also can be called double timing. Although some phrases can have different meanings in music among musicians. Some military practice routines are based on this time signature and might be a reason for the title! Let's have a look at its structure and simply practice by clapping to its beat while counting out loud!

3. 'Compound' or 'Waltz' is our '3/4' time signature. It's safe to say that many Latin kinds of music or dancy tribal music would have this time signature. However, it's not limited to any type of music. Let's carry on practising by following the pattern below:

4. 'Double Compound' or '6/8' is the most advanced time signature we cover in this article. This is a double-time signature to Waltz as you can see in the numbers. There are a couple of ways to count this time signature, however, we follow the original pattern.







Note: The tempo (speed of the beat) is a separate factor to this topic. You can practice any of the examples above at a slow or fast speed. As long as the tempo is being held steady for the track at this point, it means you are doing it correctly.


We nearly have completed the music theory basics. Next we will get to learn the measures within different type of notes.

 

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