Page 58 - Chorister's Companion
P. 58

                                                                  Musical skills and understanding
Time signatures
A time signature tells you how many beats or pulses there are in each bar. The top number tells you the number of beats in a bar. The bottom number tells you the type of beat in a bar.
For example:
2 - Thereare2beatsinabar
4 - The beats are crotchet [quarter note] beats
When looking at the bottom number of a time signature, you may find it helpful to refer to the note tree on page 55 to help you work out which note value is represented by which number. It is all worked out by how many beats fit into a semibreve [whole note].
For example:
There are 2 minims [half notes] in a semibreve [whole note]. Therefore, a minim [half note] beat is represented by the number ‘2’ at the bottom of a key signature.
3 = 3 minim [half note] beats in a bar 2
There are 4 crotchets [quarter notes] in a semibreve [whole note]. Therefore, a crotchet [quarter note] beat is represented by the number ‘4’ at the bottom of a key signature.
3 = 3 crotchet [quarter note] beats in a bar 4
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