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Difference between 7/4, 7/8, 7/16.

Estimable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 152
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Can you hear the difference? I guess there's an advantage using one over another for notation? Can somebodymake notation examples showing the difference? Can somebody play examples showing the difference? Thanks.

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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933

You won't hear any difference between them.

Any meter with 7 beats per measure can be represented with any note as the beat. The identical rhythm can be written as 7/8, 7/4, 7/16, 7/32, 7/2, or even 7/1.

The advantage of any one over another depends on how the beats are combined, divided, and subdivided. Let's say you're dividing a beat into eight parts. If you chose a sixteenth note as the beat, you'd need 128th notes (five beams/flags). But if you chose a half note as the beat, they'd be sixteenth notes - which will be much easier to read. If you have a lot of really long sounds, you'd probably go the other way. The ultimate goal is to have the standard notation easiest to read.

Now with that said, there's also a psychological/traditional factor. Before tempo terms became common, composers would use shorter notes for the beat in faster pieces. The thinking was that each note had its own "natural" duration, and since eighths are shorter than quarters, a piece in 3/8 would be played faster than one in 3/4. This idea is called tempo giusto (Italian for "right time"). Tempo terms, and later metronome marks, made this sort of notation obsolete - but to this day a conductor will use a faster tempo for a piece with a shorter note as the beat, even if the tempo terms are the same.

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