An introduction to music theory
An introduction to music theory

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An introduction to music theory

Group 1: identifying compound time signatures

Activity 1

Match the time signatures, 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8 to bar numbers 1–3.

When identifying compound time signatures, count how many dotted crotchet beats there are in a bar. Don’t forget that a dotted crotchet is equivalent to three quavers and that thinking about the beaming might help you.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. 6/8

  2. 9/8

  3. 12/8

  • a.Bar 2

  • b.Bar 1

  • c.Bar 3

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = b
  • 2 = a
  • 3 = c


Bar 16/8. There are two dotted-crotchet beats in the bar. The beam joining the first three notes shows conveniently the extent of the first beat, and the straightforward crotchet/quaver rhythm comprises the second beat.

Bar 29/8. Despite the rhythmic complexity introduced by the ties, the beaming clearly shows three dotted-crotchet beats.

Bar 312/8. Notice that the rhythmic value that extends through the first two full dotted-crotchet beats is notated with a dotted minim (not two tied dotted crotchets), but the division of the second pair of dotted-crotchet beats has to be shown using a tie.

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