An introduction to music theory

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Group 2: identifying simple and compound time signatures

Activity 1

When identifying simple and compound time signatures, identify the beat first – is it, for example, a minim? Then count how many beats there are in the bar. Remember, too, to consider the beaming.

Match the time signatures, 3/2, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 9/8 to bar numbers 1–6.

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

1. 3/2

2. 4/4

3. 6/8

4. 3/4

5. 9/8

6. 2/4

• a.Bar 1

• b.Bar 6

• c.Bar 5

• d.Bar 2

• e.Bar 4

• f.Bar 3

The correct answers are:
• 1 = a
• 2 = d
• 3 = f
• 4 = e
• 5 = c
• 6 = b

Bar 1:3/2 There are three minim beats in the bar.

Bar 2:4/4 There are four crotchet beats in the bar. Notice that the beaming for the quavers cannot extend across the middle of the bar.

Bar 3:6/8 The beaming shows the first dotted-crotchet beat, and the second consists of a quaver/crotchet rhythm.

Bar 4:3/4 Six quavers in 3/4 can all be beamed together. In 6/8 the beaming of the quavers would have to show the division of the bar into two dotted crotchets: the first three quavers and the last three would be beamed separately.

Bar 5:9/8 The beat is a dotted crotchet and there are three of them.

Bar 6:2/4 Despite the rhythmic complexity, the beaming shows two crotchet beats.

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