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Learn the Language of Music ; Meter

Meter is the basic, regular pulse which occur in a continuous cycle, motivation a piece of music. A meter may have a combination of strong and weak beats.


Musician count out meter, either out load or silently, while they play a piece of music. One of your first challenges is to try and keep a smooth, even count as you play the music.


Time Signature

The time signature is used to indicate the type of meter. The top number of a time signature tells the musician how many beats fill a measure of music.


A measure is a space in between two bar lines on the staff. The lower number of a time signature tells the musician which type of note gets one beat. When you learned about note types, you learned that a quarter note has a duration of one beat.


This is true as long as the lower number of a time signature is 4, indicating that a quarter note gets one beat. If the lower number is changed, then the note duration values change. In this signature, the lower number is 8, indicating that an eighth note gets one beat.


If an eight note is counted as one beat, then a quarter note gets two beats, and a half note gets four beats. All of the note durational values shifts.


2/4 Time

In 2/4 time, the first beat is strong, and the second beat is weak.


This is very human nature time signature.

Since human beings have two arms and two legs, you might imagine a person marching: "ÿour left, your left, your left,right,left , right, left..."


March music is often written in 2/4 time, as the meter of the music matches the marching feet of the band. Play string number one on your guitar and exaggerate the strong and weak beats as you play in 2/4 time.


You should be altering your picking direction, with the heel of your picking hand placed just behind the bridge saddle.


Count out load while you play this exercise, making all of the beats equal in duration.


3/4 Time

In 3/4 time, the first beat is strong, the second beat is weak, and the third beat is also weak.


The basic distribution of strong and weak beats in 3/4 time could be symbolized by a stone splashing into the water, with ripples flowing away from the splash : 1,2,3,1,2,3...


Example :

Waltz music is written in 3/4 time, as the wavy feel of the music fits well with the dance.



4/4 Time

4/4 time is similar in nature to 2/4 time, but the distribution of strong and weak beats create a longer cycle. The first beat is strong, the second beat is weak, the third beat is medium strength, and the fourth beat is weak.


4/4 time is called common time in music, and there are many pieces of music written in many different styles which use this meter.


You may see 4/4 time marked with a C symbol for common time; either of these symbols refer to the same meter with the same distribution of strong and weak beats.


Exercises :

Play string number one on your guitar and exaggerate the strong and weak beats as you play in 4/4 time.


Try your best to make beat number 1 strong and beat number 3 medium strength. Count out loud while you play this exercise, making al of the beats equal in duration. :





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