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Topic: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

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  1. #1

    Question OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve recently been reading up on time signatures and obviously know how to read them, but when determining the right time signature for my music I’m having a hard time differentiating between 4/4, 2/4 and 2/2 and between 3/4, 6/8 and 3/2. Here’s what I mean:

    I can write the same musical phrase in 4/4, 2/4 and 2/2, using the same note values. Similarly, I can write the same simple waltz in 3/4, 6/8 and 3/2, using the same note values. How do I determine what time signature to go for and is there only one right answer or can this be an arbitrary thing? What do you use as guidelines when determining the time signature? Is it scoring efficiency related to tempo?

    So what’s the difference between a 3/4 measure with 8th notes and a 6/8 measure with 8th notes? Or what’s the point of using 2/2 instead of 4/4?

    Who can give some clear guidelines?

    Thanks a lot!

    Roy

  2. #2

    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    First of all, 3/4 and 6/8 are NOT the same.

    6/8 would be:

    TICK tick tick TICK tick tick

    in a bar, whereas 3/4 would be:

    TICK tick TICK tick TICK tick

    in a bar. Both the same number of beats, but different patterns of strong and weak.

    The difference between 2/2 and 4/4 is a bit less cut-and-dry though. Because 2/2 only has two beats in a bar, whereas 4/4 has four, 2/2 is better suited to fast music where you can only really feel the two strong beats per measure anyway.

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    I'm not sure there are clear guidelines in certain cases... The difference in pulse from 3/4 to 6/8 might be clear cut, but not so much between 2/2, 4/4, 2/4, etc.

    For me, it all boils down to which time signature will most efficiently and simply get your musical point across to the players. You can ultimately make ANY time signature work, but I think the when choosing between 2/2, 2/4 and 4/4, the answer is whichever makes the score easier and simpler to read.

    -Alex

    EDIT- and I don't think there is ONE right answer!

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    Thanks for your comments, Alex and dalek3.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    Quote Originally Posted by dalek3
    First of all, 3/4 and 6/8 are NOT the same.

    6/8 would be:

    TICK tick tick TICK tick tick

    in a bar, whereas 3/4 would be:

    TICK tick TICK tick TICK tick
    Wait ... huh?
    Styxx

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    Quote Originally Posted by Styxx
    Wait ... huh?
    If the upper number of a time signature is a multiple of three (i.e. 6, 9, 12, etc.) it is compound time instead of simple time.

    In compound time, each beat is divided into three sub-beats whereas in simple time each beat is divided into two sub-beats.

    You can also use triplets in simple time to divide up a beat or beats the same way as they are divided up naturally in compound time.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    Yeah, right ... OK.
    Styxx

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    Quote Originally Posted by dalek3
    First of all, 3/4 and 6/8 are NOT the same.

    6/8 would be:

    TICK tick tick TICK tick tick

    in a bar, whereas 3/4 would be:

    TICK tick TICK tick TICK tick

    in a bar. Both the same number of beats, but different patterns of strong and weak.

    The difference between 2/2 and 4/4 is a bit less cut-and-dry though. Because 2/2 only has two beats in a bar, whereas 4/4 has four, 2/2 is better suited to fast music where you can only really feel the two strong beats per measure anyway.
    Hmmm, I guess I am missing something, but this does not seem right to me. TICK tick TICK tick TICK tick seems like an even time signature. I would guess something like 2/4.

    I agree 3/4 would be TICK tick tick TICK tick tick TICK tick tick.

    I would think the difference between 3/4 and 6/4 would be the 1st beat of 6/4 would be emphasized and the 4th beat would not be. So, I would think 6/4 sould be:

    TICK tick tick tick tick tick TICK tick tick tick tick tick. . . .

    So, 3/4 would sound like repeated coutning if ONE two three, while 6/4 would sound more like repeated counting of ONE two three four five six.

    But, then again, I was not a music major.

    jeffn1
    For original progressive electronic rock influenced by J.S. Bach and (old) Rush, check out: www.soundclick.com/jeffreynaness.

  9. #9

    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    I think what he meant was-

    6/8

    ONE two three FOUR five six

    3/4

    ONE and TWO and THREE and

    -Alex

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Determining the time signature for your piece

    6/4??

    Styxx, I'm with YOU.

    Carl

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