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# Standard Notation - Rhythm

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(@coolnama)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 590
Topic starter

More specifically confusion with time signatures.

Isnt 4/4 technically the same as 2/2 or 1/1 just with less unstressed beats right ?

Like 4/4 = 4 beats per measure, one beat is a quarter note.

2/2 = 2 beats per measure, one beat is one half note

Isnt it technically the same O_O

And, what is the point of stuff like 4/16 = 4 beats per measure, one beat is a sixteenth note
Isnt that just like a faster 4/4 ??

Ahhhh I hope everyone was as confused as I am when they started learning this.

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....

(@noteboat)
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Well, 4/16 is the same meter as 4/4 - but that doesn't mean it's faster. Each has four beats, and the speed at which you play something depends on the tempo, not the time signature.

Say you're in 4/4 at 100bpm - a moderate tempo. You'll get 400 sixteenth notes per minute... but in 4/16 you'd have to be at a 400bpm tempo to have them last the same amount of time.

Different notes can be chosen as the beat for different reasons. Some common ones are:

- at fast tempos, it's easier to read longer note values. If you're going really fast, 4/2 might be easier to read than 4/4.

- at slow tempos, the opposite can be true.

- in pieces that change time signatures, you need some constant. If you change from 4/4 to 7/8, you can either keep the beat the same, or you can keep the note the same. If quarter notes were 100bpm, you can have eighth notes at 100, OR you can have eighth notes at 200 (keeping the note values identical). Composers usually include a note to tell you what they're doing... and that choice, plus how easy it is to read, can affect their choice of time signatures.

- sometimes it's traditional. A lot of triple meter spanish guitar music is written in 3/8.

- sometimes they do want it a bit faster. Although there's no logical difference between 3/8 and 3/4, many conductors will count 3/8 a bit quicker - even if there's an identical metronome mark!

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(@coolnama)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter

Ok so the one in the top tells me the number of beats in the measure, and the one in the bottom tells me what note counts as the beat.

Ok so the bottom number doesnt affect the speed of the song, that is decided by tempo, it just tells us how long the notes are going to last .

So if for example I have 2 fourth notes and a half note in a 4/4, those notes are going to take the whole measure. If I have the 4/16 time signature, it still takes up the whole measure but the notes are shorter, though the measure is not necesarrily longer, or goes away any faster, the notes are shorter in duration, because they are 16th, but they still take up the whole measure, yes ?

Now this is only in Simple Meter, but in Compound Meter ( which = Triplets right ? ) its a bit different, yes ?

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....

(@fretsource)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973

Ok so the one in the top tells me the number of beats in the measure, and the one in the bottom tells me what note counts as the beat.

Ok so the bottom number doesnt affect the speed of the song, that is decided by tempo, it just tells us how long the notes are going to last .

It doesn't tell you how long the notes will last in absolute terms. But it tells you how long they will last relative to the beat. So if the time sig is 4/4 , then you know that a quarter note (you call them 4th notes in the US?) will last exactly one beat. If the tempo is 60 beats per minute, then that note will last one second.
So if for example I have 2 fourth notes and a half note in a 4/4, those notes are going to take the whole measure. If I have the 4/16 time signature, it still takes up the whole measure but the notes are shorter, though the measure is not necesarrily longer, or goes away any faster, the notes are shorter in duration, because they are 16th, but they still take up the whole measure, yes ?

You're right about the 4/4 but in 4/16 those notes won't fit in the measure. There's only room for the first note (which equals 4 sixteenth notes).
To make it sound exactly the same in 4/16 you would need 2 sixteenth notes plus an eighth note played at the same tempo, i.e., the same number of beats per minute (the beat now being a sixteenth note)

I don't know if you know this, but you can't 'hear' the bottom number of a time signature. The top number is the meter and you can usually (but not always) hear what that is because of the regular stress patterns. But the bottom number is just someone's choice for the purpose of writing it down. We can often guess what the number probably is for the reasons given above by NoteBoat. But we can't hear it.

It's like me reading aloud a series of numbers from a sheet of paper. You can hear the numbers no problem but you've no way of knowing whether my numbers are written as 1 2 3 or as one two three. And it doesn't matter. If you want to write them down, then it's your choice whether you write them as 1 2 3 or one two three.

(@coolnama)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter

. So if the time sig is 4/4 , then you know that a quarter note (you call them 4th notes in the US?)

No, I just forgot the name, see I know them in spanish, and just said quarter note cause thats the 4 :P.

You're right about the 4/4 but in 4/16 those notes won't fit in the measure. There's only room for the first note (which equals 4 sixteenth notes).
To make it sound exactly the same in 4/16 you would need 2 sixteenth notes plus an eighth note played at the same tempo, i.e., the same number of beats per minute (the beat now being a sixteenth note)

Ahhh ok, I can see now that this is kind of stupid O_O. So if you write music in 4/16 you are going to have to make alot of measures or alot of 32nd notes, and you cant really sustain any note because you would have to write two measures just for a half note O_O, well its not that you cant but its kind of silly.

I don't know if you know this, but you can't 'hear' the bottom number of a time signature. The top number is the meter and you can usually (but not always) hear what that is because of the regular stress patterns. But the bottom number is just someone's choice for the purpose of writing it down. We can often guess what the number probably is for the reasons given above by NoteBoat. But we can't hear it.

Ah, so the bottom number is just a tool used by the ;man; to scare off people from studying music :P.

But seriously, its more of a technicality, that affects how easy it is to read the piece, ok.

Now the top number is different, it is the beats per measure, and this is where alot of music is different, people change that for the rhythm stresses to be changed right ?

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....

(@fretsource)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973

So if you write music in 4/16 you are going to have to make alot of measures or alot of 32nd notes, and you cant really sustain any note because you would have to write two measures just for a half note O_O, well its not that you cant but its kind of silly.

You might have lots of 32nd notes and even 64th notes, but the number of measures is the same.
For example, a 12 bar blues has 12 measures per verse. Technically, it doesn't matter whether you write it as 4/4, 4/2, 4/8 or 4/16 (although 4/4 is pretty much the standard choice). But, whatever one you choose, it will still have 12 measures and each measure will still have 4 beats.

(@coolnama)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter

OKay, but if you did use a half note it would take up all those measures right ? ( not ALL the measures, just the ones I mentioned in my above post )

so basically there is not alot of use for writing something 4/16 because you will have to use 32nd and 64th notes just to fit everything into the measures, the number that really makes more of a difference is the one on top.

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....

(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973

OKay, but if you did use a half note it would take up all those measures right ? ( not ALL the measures, just the ones I mentioned in my above post )

Right - a half note would take up 2 measures, and would have to be written as 2 quarter notes tied.

(@coolnama)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter

Hmm okay so a 12 bar blues would still have 12 measures, but would it be shorter in length or something ??

I understand this ( this as in time signatures ) now, but there is no discernible difference ? ( that I can hear at all ? )

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....

(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973

Hmm okay so a 12 bar blues would still have 12 measures, but would it be shorter in length or something ??

I understand this ( this as in time signatures ) now, but there is no discernible difference ? ( that I can hear at all ? )

No, it wouldn't be any shorter in length if the tempo is the same in both cases. If the tempo is 60 BPM, then each beat lasts one second. If there are 4 beats in a measure then each measure will last 4 seconds. As each verse in a 12 bar blues contains 12 measures, then each verse will last 48 seconds.

All that's left to do is decide what note length we want to use to represent a single beat, so that we can write it down.
If we decide to call the beat "a quarter note" then we can write out the notes in the melody in relation to a quarter note. So, if any note lasts 2 beats then we write it as a half note, if it lasts one beat, we write it as a quarter note, and if it lasts half a beat we write it as an eighth note.
And we would let others know that we've chosen a quarter note to represent one beat by adding a 4/4 time signature, which let's them know that there are 4 beats in the measure (the top number(and that a quarter note (the bottom number) is to last for exactly one beat.

(@chrisnw)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8

So how does one figure out the tempo from sheet music?

(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472

A lot of times you can't. Occasionally, though, sheet music will have a "BPM" (beats per minute) marking at the beginning of the song. The BPM is usually proceded by a quarter note and then an equals sign ("=") and that lets you know how many quarter notes should be played in a minute. You adjust your metronome to the correct BPM and you're good to go.

If you don't have the BPM but do have an audio recording of the song in question, simply count the number of beats that occur in ten seconds and multiply by six. Or count the number of beats in six seconds and mulitply by ten.

Hope this helps.

Peace

(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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Sheet music can have metronome marks (as David indicated, that's given by a note = bpm, sometimes preceded by "M.M." for "Maelzel's Metronome"). But most music doesn't have it.

Standard notation is like a script for a play or film. All the words/notes are there - you get an accurate idea of what kind of sounds the actors/musicians are going to make. But how they make them - how they realize the writers/composers vision - is really a collaboration of sorts between the author and the performer.

So most music will give you some very general instruction general as a guideline.... you'll see Italian terms like "Andante" (which literally means "walking" - about the pace of your footsteps as you walk), or "Allegro" (which literally means "I am happy" - a nice peppy tempo). Something in the middle might be marked "Moderato".

Italian terms are traditional - and there are dozens of them - but you'll also see terms in other languages. English, German, and French are used, and sometimes Spanish. Publishers use what they think most of their readers will understand.

After that it's up to you. One performer's Andante might be another's Largo.

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(@chrisnw)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8

Thx for the info guys.

I've started to study some of Elvis's songs from an old music book of 40 or so songs. All most all the tempos are very strange to me. I mean I understand now, like David said listen to the song and do the math then you'll have any idea of the speed of the tempo in which I can set my buddy metronome too.

Here are some from the Elvis music book I found interesting and strange.

A Big Hunk Of Love; Bright rock
All Shook Up; Medium shuffle rhythm.
Ain't That Loving You Baby; Medium bright blues.

Some other interesting ones:
Anything That's Part Of You; Slowly and Tenderly.
Are You Lonesome Tonight: Valse moderato.
Blue Christmas; With expression.
Burning Love; Brisk Rock
Don't Cry Daddy; Moderato, with feeling.
Heartbreak Hotel; Blues tempo
Feel So Bad; Mambo â€˜Blues' Beat
Kentucky Rain; Slow (triplet feel)

Blue Christmas has an â€œwith expressionâ€ & Don't Cry Daddy has â€œModerato, with feelingâ€ tempo. These make me think that I should hit the note/notes harder or lighter. But maybe that's not the case.

Thx
Chris