Music exists in the dimension of Time and is measured by recurring Beats or Pulses (some stronger than others) all grouped together. Each Group of Beats is called a Bar or Measure. Each Bar or Measure may contain Notes, Rests or a combination of both.
The 1st Beat of each Bar or Measure has the strongest Pulse or Accent. A vertical line called a Bar Line is placed on a Music Staff to separate each Bar of music with a Double Bar Line placed at the end of a piece of Music.
Time Signatures have 2 numbers, one above the other and is located at the beginning of a piece of music just after the Key Signature.
The number of beats in each measure will be the same for a piece of music unless a change is indicated. Time Signatures only appear once in a piece of music unless there is a change in the timing, unlike the Key Signature, which appears at the beginning of each staff.
The Upper number tells us how many beats there are in each Bar or Measure. The Lower number tells us what kind of note gets one beat.
Beats Per Bar
Note that Gets 1 Beat
The reason for different Time Signatures is to express a different type of feel in music. This is accomplished by assigning different pulses to the beats in Time Signatures, as shown below.
Beats Per Bar
Pattern Of Pulses
Strong Weak Weak
Strong Weak Medium Weak
Strong Weak Weak Medium Weak Weak
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Time Signatures are referred to by different names to convey these different Pulses and 'Feels', as described in the following examples:
Also known as Polka Time.
Often called Waltz Time
Referred to as Common Time or March Time. The Symbol is often used instead of