The information on this page has been taken from Chapter 2 of our
textbook. Look through that chapter for more information.
- The basic pulse of a musical passage.
- Groups or patterns of beats. Duple (group of two beats),
triple (group of three beats) and quadruple (group of four
beats) are the most common meters.
- Division of the beat
- The durations we hear in a musical passage that are shorter than the beat.
- Simple beat
- A type of beat that can be divided into two equal parts. Not to be confused
with simple meter which refers to how a measure is divided.)
- Compound beat
- A beat that can be divided into three equal parts. Not to be confused with
compound meter which refers to how a measure is divided.
- Simple time signature
- A time signature with 2, 3, or 4 as the top number. See p. 32-33 for a
table of some typical simple time signatures.
- Compound time signature
- A time signature with a 6, 9, or 12 as the top number, indicating the
number of divisions of the beat contained in a measure and what the division
duration is. The top number 6 would mean two beats times three divisions (2 X 3
= 6); 9, three beats times three divisions (3 X 3 = 9); 12, four beats times
three divisions (4 X 3 = 12). See p. 35 for a table of some compund time
Examples: Simple Beat and Time
Signatures | Compound Beat and Time Signatures