Time & Rhythm: Time Signatures

The Time Signature, written immediately after the key signature, is a pattern of numbers that looks like a fraction that tells you two things:

  • The top number tells you how many beats (pulses) are in a measure.
  • The bottom number tell you which type of note gets the beat (pulse).

Here are a few examples:


This Time Signature (3/4) tells us that there are three quarter notes per measure and that each quarter note gets one beat…

piano-ology-time-and-rhythm-time-signatures-three-four-example


This Time Signature (4/4) tells use that there are four quarter notes per measure and that each quarter note gets one beat…

piano-ology-time-and-rhythm-time-signatures-four-four-example

Note: 4/4 time is so common that it is sometimes written as the letter “C” (for Common time) instead…

piano-ology-time-and-rhythm-time-signatures-common-time-example


This Time Signature (6/8) tells use that there are six eighth notes per measure and that each eighth note gets one beat…

piano-ology-time-and-rhythm-time-signatures-six-eight-example


By the way, any time signature is possible: 2/4, 2/2, 3/8, 5/4, 6/4, 7/4, 9/8, 10/8, 12/8 and so and so on!

About Frank J Peter

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!
This entry was posted in Time & Rhythm and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Time & Rhythm: Time Signatures

  1. paula graham says:

    my brain is spinning, but yes, I understand!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Spinning AND learning! : )

    Liked by 1 person

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