3.1 Measure and time signature

 

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

In this chapter, you’ll learn about the three-eight meter and the six-eight meter. Further, you’ll have aan excercise to learn how to recognize rhythms.

1. Three-eight meter

 

three-eight meter 3achtstemaat Ch.3.1 Measure and time signature | Musictheory.education three-eight meter 3 beats per measure, an eight note gets one beat.

 

A three-eight meter has 3 beats per measure, the eighth note gets 1 beat. This is in contrast to a three-four meter, where the quarter note gets 1 beat. Because the eighth note gets 1 beat, the quarter note gets 2 beats and the dotted quarter note gets 3 beats.

Three-eight meter
In a three-eight meter, the eighth note gets 1 beat.

A three-eight meter is most similar to a three-four meter. The similarity is that they both have 3 beats per measure. The difference is that the note values are doubled. In a three-four meter, the quarter note is 1 beat; in a three-eight meter, the quarter note is 2 beats.

Three-four meter
In a three-four meter, the quarter note gets 1 beat.

An example of a famous piece in three-eight meter is Fur Elise by Beethoven.

Example

Listen to the three-eight meter.

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2. Six-eight meter

 

six-eight meter 6achtstemaat Ch.3.1 Measure and time signature | Musictheory.education six-eight meter 6 beats per measure, an eight note gets one beat; divided into two groups of three.

 

A six-eight meter has 6 beats per measure, the eighth note gets 1 beat. Therefor, the quarter note gets 2 beats, the dotted quarter note gets 3 beats, and the dotted half note gets 6 beats.

The most important aspect of a six-eight meter is the division of the 6 counts. You can divide 6 counts in two ways, either into three groups of two or into two groups of three. The six-eight meter is divided into two groups of three.

Six-eight meter
The six-eight meter is divided into two groups of three.

When eighth notes are played in a three-four meter, they are divided into three groups of two.

Three-four meter
Eighth notes in a three-four meter are divided into three groups of two.

Because of this difference in the division of eighth notes, there is a great rhythmic difference between the six-eighth meter and the three-fourth meter. The six-eighth meter has a movement in twos and the three-fourth meter has a movement in threes. Therefore, the six-eighth meter is more like the two-four meter than the three-four meter. The two-four meter also has a movement in twos. The difference between the six-eighth meter and two-four meter is that the six-eighth meter has three eighths per group and the two-four meter has two eighths per group.

Two-four meter
Eighth notes in a two-four meter are divided into two groups of two.

 

Example

Listen to the six-eight meter.

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3. Ear training

The exercise recognizing rhythm is a preparatory exercise for Chapter 3.22 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.

 

Practise

Ear Training exercise 3d: the played rhythm is notated twice. Choose the right rhythm.

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Example question

The next rhythm is being played:

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Choose which rhythm you hear.

Choise 1: No image!

Choise 2: No image!

 

Practical steps

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

  1. in the first rhythm, four eight notes are being played. The last eight note is tied with a half note and is played between the second and third beat.
  2. in the second rhythm, the first beat of the second measure is a quarter note. The last (half) note is played on the third beat.

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

  1. four eight notes are being played (choise 1) or
  2. a quarter note is being played and the last note is played on the third beat (choise 2).

Answer: choice 1.