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What Is A Time Signature In Musical Composition?

TIME SIGNATURE – In this topic, we will now know the meaning of a certain part in composing music called a time signature.

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Also known as meter signature, metre signature, or measure signature, according to Lumen, it is a notational convention that is utilitzed in musical notations in the Western part of the world.

These are used to elaborate how many beats or pulses are to be grouped in each bar and which notes is to be given one beat.

These are positioned at the beginning of the musical piece, either by symbol or usually stacked numerals.


The common meter signatures are composed of two numerals in the form of fractions:

  • Lower numeral (denominator in mathematical terms)
    • these indicate the note value that represents one beat (the unit for, you guessed it, beat).
  • Upper numeral (nominator in mathematical terms)
    • indicates how many beats are grouped in one bar


The types are grouped into seven categories:

  • Simple
    • examples are common time or cut-time
      • 2/4
      • 3/4
      • 4/4
  • Compound
    • here, subdivisions of the main beat (the upper number) split into three, not two, equal parts, so that a dotted note (half again longer than a regular note) becomes the beat unit.
      • 9/8
      • 12/8
  • Complex
    • 5/4
    • 7/8
    • 7/4
  • Mixed
    • 5/8 and 3/8
    • 6/8 and 3/4
  • Additive
    • 3+2+3/8
  • Fractional
    • 21/2 /4
  • Irrational
    • 3/10
    • 5/24

READ ALSO: Who Is Ludwig Van Beethoven? About The Famous Classical Composer

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