1.3 Measure and time signature


Category: Elementary music theory | Tags: Measure and time signature

In this chapter, you’ll learn about the regular grouping of the beats in which we divide music. You’ll learn about measures and time signatures and how we notate them. Further, you’ll have aan excercise to learn how to recognize rhythms.

1. Measure


  measure the notes between the bar lines.
  rhythm alternation of short and long notes.
maatstreep bar line divide the music into measures.
slotstreep final bar line end of the piece.



The staff with brace, measure, bar lines and final bar line.

note example

2. Time signatures


  time signature the number of beats in the measure and the note value that represents one beat.
The time signature is indicated at the beginning of the staff near the clef.
four-four meter four-four meter 4 beats per measure, a quater note gets one beat.
driekwartsmaat three-four meter 3 beats per measure, a quater note gets one beat.
 2kwartsmaat= two-four meter 2 beats per measure, a quater note gets one beat.
  upbeat incomplete measure at the beginning of a piece.
The incomplete measure and the last measure are together a whole measure.



A melody in three-four meter with an upbeat.

note example

Listen to a four-four meter.

Listen to a three-four meter.

Listen to a two-four meter.

3. Ear training

The exercise recognizing rhythm is a preparatory exercise for Chapter 1.18 Rhythmic dictation.

The purpose of this exercise is to learn to hear the difference between two differently notated rhythms. The difference between these two rhythms concerns only one note.



Ear Training exercise 1e: the played rhythm is notated twice. Choose the right rhythm.

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Example question

The next rhythm is being played:

Choose which rhythm you hear.

Choise 1: No image!

Choise 2: No image!


Practical steps

The rhythm is notated in a three-four meter. The difference between the first and second rhythm is the first beat in the first measure:

  1. In the first rhythm, a quarter note is being played.
  2. In the second rhythm, a half note is being played.

Clap or tap the two notated rhythms to train your inner hearing abilties. Then play the rhythm and try to hear whether in the first beat in the first measure

  1. a quarter note is being played (choise 1) or
  2. a half note is being played (choise 2).

Answer: choice 1.