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Theory Lesson 6 : Time Signature

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The way to count a piece of music is shown by a time signature printed before the first note. It has two numbers, one above the other, like this 4/4.

The lower number shows what type of note you are counting. 4 as the lower number, which means that we will count in quarter notes.

If the upper numbers is 2 we count in twos.

2/4 time is often used for marches. Think of soldiers keeping to a steady tread:

Left right Left right Left right Left right

If the upper number is 3 we count in threes.

If the upper number is 4 we count in fours.

We saw a rhythm in 4 time at the end of lesson 4. It is the most common of all time signatures and is sometimes written as C instead of 4/4. Many pop songs are written in 4/4 time.

To make it easier to keep your place, an upright line called a bar line is drawn across the stave before every count of 1 in the music.

The music between each pair of bar lines is called a bar or measure. The first note of each bar (on the count of “1”) should be slightly firmer than the other notes, but take care not to hesitate at the bar lines. The count must always be totally even.

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