PhamoxMusic » Types Of Time Signature in Music Notation

Types Of Time Signature in Music Notation

Types Of Time Signature:

In this article, we want to discuss three main types of time signatures we have in music. Actually, we have already discussed time signature in time signature in music notation posts earlier. And we refer to the time signature as the symbol which indicates the time of a piece of music. Incidentally, the symbols for the time signature are of two types which are ordinary symbols and numeral figures.

The time signature is a pair of numbers appearing at the beginning of any music to signify the time.  And in musical notation, time signature established the grouping of beats into measures.  In other words, the time signature in a music piece establishes the number of beats each bar or measure accommodates.

Moreover, the time signature tells musicians how to count the beat or pulse of a piece while playing it. It also contributes greatly to the rhythm of the music. In this article, we will start our discussion with how we can categorize the beat pattern and further discuss types of time signatures in music.

Duple, Triple, And Quadruple Time

This is one of the ways we can categorize beats patterns in music. The Duple, Triple, and Quadruple categorization is an outcome of the relationship between the counting pulse. Also, it is all about beat grouping, within a bar and how many beats are present in each measure. So we have a duple for two beats, triple for three beats, and a quadruple for four beats. These categorizations are utilized by conducting patterns as well.

Duple Time

This is sometimes referred to as a duple meter. Nevertheless, duple time is all about two beats in a measure. So when you have two major beats in a measure, you have a duple time. The top number of duple time is always 2. For instance, a time with 22 with 2 minim beats or 24 with 2 crotchet beats. When a piece of music is in duple meter, the beats in measures are grouped in two and have a repetitive Strong-Weak beat pattern.

Triple Time

This is also called a triple meter. Triple time is all about three beats in a measure. When you have three major beats per measure, you have a triple time. Triple time to number is always 3. For instance, 34 with 3 crotchet beats and 38 with 3 quaver beats per measure. When a piece of music is in triple meter, the beats in measures are grouped in threes and have a repetitive Strong-Weak-Weak beat pattern.

Quadruple Time

The quadruple time is also called the quadruple meter. The quadruple time occurs when we have four main beats in a measure. The typical example of quadruple time is 44 times with 4 crotchet beats in a measure. Also, the 42 times with four minim beats in a measure. When a piece of music is in quadruple meter the beats in measures are grouped in four and have a Very Strong-Weak-Strong-Weak beat pattern. Or Strong-Weak-Medium Strong-Weak beat pattern.

Types Of Time Signatures

In this section, we are going to look at different types of time signatures we have in music notation. Specifically, we have a number of types of time signatures, and these vary from simple, compound, complex, and mixed time signatures. Furthermore, we have additive, fractional, and irrational time signatures. But the three basic types that we have are simple time signature, compound time signature, and complex time signature.

Notwithstanding, all of these types can still be categorized as duple, triple, and quadruple except complex time. This is because all simple, and compound times will still have two, three, or four recurring pulses. For instance, 24 is simply the simple time duple and 68 is a compound time duple.

Simple Time Signature

This is the type of time signature with the beat that creates two-part rhythms. The simple simply means that the beats in a measure can be divided into two. The top numbers or figures of the simple time are one between 1 to 5. The typical examples of simple time are 22, 24, 34, 44, 26, 28, 38, and so on.

The 44 time is popularly known as common time. The common time is also represented by symbol C across the three middle lines of the staff.  On the other hand, we have cut time also known as cut common time. The 22 time is the cut time and the symbol C with a bar that cuts through it is also used to represent it.  

A simple time signature normally has 2, 3, or 4 as the top figure or number. Therefore, any musical pulse with the count of “one two one two” is based on simple time. The simple time is also subdivided into simple duple time, simple triple time, and simple quadruple time.

Simple Duple Time

The Duple is used to specify two beats per measure and we normally use the top part of the time signature for this purpose. On the other hand, the simple is about the bottom figure that specifies that each beat in the measure can be divided up into two notes. For instance, 24 time with two crotchet notes that can further be divided up into four quavers notes. There are two quaver notes for each crotchet note.

Types Of Time Signature in Music Notation - Simple Duple Time

Other examples include 28 as well as 22 (cut time). The essential feature of simple duple time is the use of 2 for the top figure of the time signature.

Simple Triple Time

The term triple is commonly used to indicate three beats as indicated by the top part of the time signature. Nevertheless, the bottom figure will still show that each beat in the measure can be evenly divided into two notes. The typical example of simple triple time is 34 time that specifies 3 crotchet note beats which can be divided into 6 quaver beat notes. This means that each crotchet note will be divided to form 2 quavers notes. Other examples for simple triple time are 32 and 38 time.

Types Of Time Signature in Music Notation - Simple Triple Time

In simple triple time, the beats are grouped in threes to form a strong-weak-weak: strong-weak-weak accent. Also, the rhythm formed is counted 1-2-3, 1-2-3, and so on. Therefore, it is called three-time and waltz time for 34 time. The common feature of the simple triple type of time signature is the usage of 3 for the top figure in time signature.

Simple Quadruple Time.

This is all about 4 beats in a measure as specified by the top part of the time signature. And the type of note can be divided into two as the bottom number of the time signature will indicate it. The 44 (common) time is one of the simple quadruple time examples. This comprises four crotchet note beats in a measure.

Types Of Time Signature in Music Notation  - Simple Quadruple Time.

The four crotchet notes can be further divided into 8 quaver notes. That means each crotchet can be divided into two quaver notes beats. Notwithstanding, the four beats can either be one crotchet note each, two quaver notes each, or covering two minim notes.

The beats in simple quadruple are grouped to form Strong-Weak-MediumStrong-Weak accent. Therefore, the beats are counted as 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, and so on. This four-beat count is the rhythmic flow of the simple quadruple time.

Compound Time Signature

This is the type of signature with the beat that creates three-part rhythms. In compound time, each beat in a measure can be divided by three into equal groups of dotted notes. Also, the top number of figures is between 6 and above. The typical examples of compound time are 94, 68, 128, and so on.

This time contains dotted half notes beats. Again, the main beats in compound time are dotted notes. The conductor usually used the dotted note in compound time to count the beat for each bar. The Compound time is also subdivided into compound duple time, compound triple time, and compound quadruple time.

Compound Duple Time

This is basically time with two beats per measure and the beat unit is always three times the note value that the lower figure specifies. That means the beat unit is three notes of the beat unit that is indicated by the lower number.

The compound duple time is a type of compound time that its top figure is divisible by 2 or multiple of 2. For example, 62, 64, 68, 616, and so on. It is common to have a time signature with 6 as the top number as compound duple.

Compound Triple Time

This is basically time with three beats per measure and the beat unit is always three times the note value that the lower figure specifies. That means the beat unit is three notes of the beat unit that is indicated by the lower number.

The compound triple time is simply the compound time that the top figure or number can be divided by 3. Also, it is the compound time that has the top figure that is the multiple of 3. For example, 94, 98, 916, and so on. Typically, most time signatures that have 9 as the top figure are compound triple.

Compound Quadruple Time

This is basically time with four beats per measure and the beat unit is always three times the note value that the lower figure specifies. That means the beat unit is three notes of the beat unit that is indicated by the lower number.

This contains four beats and each beat consists of three notes as we have in compound time. Again, it means that the beat in a measure is four and each beat can be divided into equal three. For example, 122, 124, 128, 1216, and so on.

Complex Time Signature

This is the type of time signatures that does not follow the normal time pattern we have in duple, triple, and quadruple. That means they do not have equal beat per measure. Instead, they combine simple and time signatures to form a bar. Complex time is also known as odd, irregular, or asymmetric time signature.

One of the examples of complex time is 54 which means five crotchet beats per bar. You can easily break this into two groups with the top figure as 3+2. With this, the accent will be on the 1st beat and the 4th beat. Another example is 74 which can be broken into 3+4 or 3+2+2.

The way you break complex time into simple and compound time depends on where you want the accent. However, with complex time, you will always have a simple beat and a compound beat in each bar. As well as numbers of beats that are not equal in length. Typically, the most common examples of complex time are 54, 58, 74, and 78 time.


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