Meter is the grouping of beats in stressed and unstressed patterns. For example, the musical form of a waltz generally uses a rhythmic pattern of three beats, with the first note accented (ONE, two, three; ONE, two, three). This is called triple meter. The most common meters are duple meters (a rhythmic pattern of two beats); triple meter (three beats) or quadruple meter (four beats).
Time Signatures (sometimes known as meter signatures) are a sign or fraction placed at the beginning of a piece to indicate the meter of the piece. Time signatures show how the beats are grouped in each measure, and what the duration is of each note. The top number in a time signature indicates how many beats there are in a measure, and the bottom number indicates the note value which represents one beat. For example, a time signature of 3/4 indicates each measure contains three quarter notes. Since each measure is grouped into three beats, 3/4 is in a triple meter.
|2/4 Time Signature|
|3/4 Time Signature|
|The letter “C” for “common time” is often used to indicate a 4/4 time signature.|
|6/8 Time Signature. Notice how in this time signature, the eighth notes are grouped into two groups of three notes each.|
|Whole Note||4 beats|
|Dotted Half Note*||3 beats|
|Half Note||2 beats|
|Quarter Note||1 beat|
|Eighth Note||1/2 beat|
|Sixteenth Note||1/4 beat|
|Eighth Note Triplets*|
To view tempo terms, visit Dynamics and Tempo Markings
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