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Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Time Signatures – 22d

Scales in Music Main 570x300 Time Signatures   22d

Scales in Music – A Tonal System

Music Theory – Section 2

Time Signatures – Music Theory

Applications – Part 22d

Welcome to the fourth part of the mini-series on the topic of Time Signatures.

Overview

This article is designed to recap through specific charts and information, using examples from  classical music to demonstrate the ideas behind the concepts of some of the simple meter time signatures.

Three examples of time signature applications will be presented from three different classical composers, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. An extract is taken from each musical work to use to demonstrate the ideas being discussed. An audio file is also available for each example.

All of the extracts used in the examples within this article are in the public domain and therefore do not need any copyright clearance.

Prerequisite Articles

To gain the greatest amount possible from this article, it is advisable to be familiar with the additional articles in this Time Signature series; 22a, 22b and 22c, as well as reviewing the Musical Note and Note Identification articles necessary for understanding note and rest values. I would also be a good idea to review Speed in Music – Tempo which will assist you in understanding more about tempo and it’s influence on time signatures.

Time Signatures – Application 1

2/4 Time Signature

This first notation extract was written by Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809) in his Symphony in G, No.94 Mvmt. 2.

Symphony in G No 94 2nd Mvmt Extract Time Signatures   22dListening

Haydn – Symphony in G No 94, 2nd Mvmt

Please take a moment to play this extract several times so you can get the feel of the music even though it is only a small part of the song. It is fairly easy to pick up the counting for this snippet of music.

Analysis

This chart shows eight measures of music to be played by a Piano. The music is notated on the G-Clef staff with several notes falling below the staff. The highest note value is a C in the seventh measure and the lowest note value is a G in measures four and eight.

The time signature is 2/4 or two beats per measure and a quarter note gets one beat. The Tempo is set referencing Andante or 90 beats per minute.

Measure One - begins with a series of four eighth notes completing the requirements as designated by the time signature. Each eighth note gets one half of a beat in 2/4 time. Mathematically it looks like this ; 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 = 2 beats in this measure.

Measure Two – begins with two eighth notes followed by a quarter note completing the requirements as designated by the time signature. Again, an eighth note gets one half of a beat in 2/4 time. Mathematically it looks like this; 1/2 + 1/2 + 1 = 2 beats in the measure.

Measure Three – is the same as measure one as far as note values. The 2 beat requirement is fulfilled in this measure.

Measure Four – is the same as measure two as far as note values. The 2 beat requirement is fulfilled in this measure.

Measure Five – is the same as measure one as far as note values. The 2 beat requirement is fulfilled in this measure.

Measure Six – is the same as measure two as far as note values. The 2 beat requirement is fulfilled in this measure.

Measure Seven – is the same as measure one as far as note values. The 2 beat requirement is fulfilled in this measure.

Measure Eight – begins with a quarter note on G followed by an eighth note and then an eighth note rest. The mathematics looks like this; 1 + 1/2 + 1/2 = 2 beats in this measure fulfilling the beat requirement in the 2/4 time signature.

All measures must meet the time signature requirements for the number of beats required per measure.

Patterns – Visually you will also see that there is a specific pattern that Haydn used in these measures. The pattern is observable both in the notation or chart above as well as in the written Analysis. In measure one Haydn used four eighth notes  to fill the beat requirements for each measure. Measures; 1, 3, 5 and 7 have the exact same pattern.

Measures 2, 4, 6 and 8 follow the same pattern however the pattern is different than the first pattern just describe above. The new pattern for these measures includes, two eighth notes followed by a quarter note. All of these measures follow that same pattern of note values.

In both pattern examples, the notes are not the same as far as the frequency (pitch) values. These pitch variations are formulated from specific guidelines which will be discussed in a future article. Collectively, they are called the melody.

Time Signatures – Applications 2

3/4 Time Signature

The second notation extract is taken from a piece written by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) The work is title Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Opus 132 and the extract is from the 5th movement.

Quartet No 15 in A minor Op132 5th Mvt 500 Time Signatures   22d

Listening

Beethoven – Quartet No 15 in A minor – Op132 5th Mvmt.

Please take a moment to play this extract several times so you can get the feel of the music even though it is only a small part of the song. Getting the count right is a matter of practice. You might want to concentrate on measure four while playing this extract. It will help you to gain an understanding of a pretty fast tempo, Presto 160, while developing your skill counting for the eighth notes.

Analysis

This chart shows five measures of music to be played by a Violin. The music is notated on the G-Clef staff and all notes fall within the staff itself, no ledger lines. The highest note value is an E, top space last measure and the lowest note value is an E one octave lower.

The time signature is 3/4 or three beats per measure and a quarter note gets one beat. The Tempo is set referencing a quarter note at 160 beats per minute.

Measure One - begins with a dotted quarter note followed by three eighth notes completing the requirements as designated by the time signature. Each eighth note gets one half of a beat in 3/4 time. Mathematically it looks like this ; 1-1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 = 3 beats.

Measure Two – begins with a half note followed by a quarter note completing the requirements as designated by the time signature. A half note gets two beat in 3/4 time. Mathematically it looks like this; 2 + 1 = 3.

Measure Three – is the same as measure one as far as note values however the notes are different. Please take the time to notice the differences between these two measures, 1 and 3.

Measure Four – Utilizes three quarter notes. Mathematically it looks like this ; 1 + 1 + 1 = 3.

Measure five – begins with a half note followed by a quarter rest. Mathematically it looks like this; 2 + 1 = 3, the same as in measure two.

All measures meet the time signature requirements for the number of beats per measure.

Patterns – Unlike the Haydn example, Beethoven chose to use variation as the pattern instead of note values. Consequently this is a more interesting piece than the first example in terms of variety.

Time Signatures – Applications 3

6/8 Time Signature

Our next example comes from the amazing composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The music clip is an extract from his String Quartet No. 23 in F Major, Mvmt. 2, K590.

Quartet in F Major K590 Mvmt 2 Extract Time Signatures   22dListening

Mozart – Quartet in F Major, Mvmt 2, K590

Analysis

Please take a minute or two and play this short example a couple of times or until you feel comfortable with the counting in these measures.

The time signature is 6/8 and the tempo is Moderato Allegretto 120. The piece is performed by the violin. Slurs are used in measures 2 and 4.

The first two measures of this example are the same as the second two measures as far as note and rest durations. The only exceptions are; the first eighth note in measure one versus the first note value in measure three was changed to a quarter note and  the pitch which was altered in the second set of two measures to create the effect Mozart was looking for.

Measure One – This measure includes the 6/8 time signature using eighth note rests and note values which meet the requirements for the number of beats within the measure. In the second half of the measure, the group of three eighth notes are tied together using the double bars at the top of the notes. The mathematics for this measure looks like this – 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 6.

Measure Two – begins with the dotted quarter note consuming 3 beats within this measure. The dotted G note is slurred to the D eighth note which is followed by two eighth rests. The mathematics looks like this – 3 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 6 again meeting the beat count requirement.

Measure Three – begins with a quarter note rather than an eighth note as used in measure one. It is followed by four eighth notes of the same pitch. Here again the three eighth notes in the second half of the measure are tied together with the double bar. The mathematics looks like this – 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 6 meeting the beat requirements for the measure under the 6/8 time signature.

Measure Four – is identical to measure two with the exception of the pitch for the notes.

All measures meet the time signature requirements for the number of beats per measure.

Patterns – In these four measures Mozart used primarily only one pattern as described in the comments above. The pattern itself spans two complete measures with a slight variation as noted. It is in essence repeated a second time to establish a melodic phrasing that is pleasing to the ear.

Time Signatures – Part 22d – Summary

The three examples of simple meter using the 2/4, 3/4 and 6/8 time signatures along with their respective analysis will help you to learn actual uses for them and how the requirements for the number of beats per measure are fulfilled in various ways.

When thinking beyond the use of simple meter and onto the more complex compound meter you will be able to come to a very nice understanding for the use of times signatures as well as what role time signatures play in creating music and/or notating music.

Up Next

The comment above leads us to Part 22e of this Time Signature article series where we will take a look at two compound meter examples in the same way we did here, the 5/4 and the 7/4 compound time signatures. Collectively they will set a solid foundation upon which to build into even more complex time signatures. With that said, Compound Time Signatures – Part 22e is the title of the next article in this series.

Please proceed to Compound Time Signatures – Part 22e

Mini Series Links

To return to the Music Theory – Level 1 directory for the article listings within the series, please proceed to Music Theory Section – Level 1 – Series Introduction – Part 10.

To continue onto Music Theory – Level 2 directory for the article listings within the series, please proceed to Music Theory Section – Level 2 – Series Introduction – Part 20

To proceed to Acoustics of Music directory for the listings within the mini-series, please proceed to Acoustics of Music – Part 1 – Series Introduction.

Note: All graphics and audio files were created using Sibelius Music Software a product of Avid Technologies.

Time Signatures

 Time Signatures   22d

About the author

Don Rath Jr wrote 112 articles on this blog.

Don Rath Jr is the President of StringTunes, an independent music publisher, and a contemporary instrumental music composer, arranger and guitarist. His music features the stringed instruments with a primary focus on guitar, string quartets and small group ensembles.

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