Join David Franz for an in-depth discussion in this video Common time and 3/4 time, part of Music Theory for Songwriters: Rhythm.
- Earlier in this course we discussed measures. A measure is a length of time based on the tempo we've chosen, and we count to subdivide the measure into smaller pieces. If we subdivide a measure into four pieces, we say there are four beats in the measure, and a quarter note gets one beat. Why, well, each beat is a quarter note because each one takes up 1/4, or a quarter, of the measure. In music notation we call this common time, or four-four, and mark it that way on music staff paper with a small C, or with a four over a four.
This is called a time signature, or meter. The C stands for common time, and four over four literally translates into there are four beats in the measure, and a quarter note gets one beat. When you see it written in musical notation this is called a time signature, or meter signature. However, when we're talking about time signatures you can simply say four-four time, or common time, or the meter is four-four. All of the examples I've used so far in this course have been in common, or in four-four time.
Remember our simple beat from earlier in the course? It goes like this. (rhythmic drum music) Counting it out, it's one, two, three, and four. One, two, three, and four. What if we don't want four beats in a measure? What if the music we're creating only calls for three beats in a measure? Well, no problemo. If there are three beats in a measure and a quarter note still gets one beat, then we have three-four time, and we simply count, one, two, three, one, two, three.
(rhythmic drumming) One, two, three. One, two, three. Another more common beat on three-four time is like this. (rhythmic drumming) One, two, three, one, two, three. Three-four time is common for waltzes, ballads, and even some hymns, like Amazing Grace. One, two, three, one, two, three. ♫ Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound Three-four is sometimes called triple meter.
Again, time signatures are also called meters and these terms are often used interchangeably. Time signatures are the foundations of your songs, and can affect the rhythmic feel of the entire song.
Music producer and record label owner David Franz starts the course with the building blocks of rhythm: counting, notes, measures, rests, rhythm notation, subdivisions, and tempo. He then explains time signatures, discussing common, compound, and asymmetrical time signatures, as well as double time and half time, and how to choose the time signature for a song. Next, he discusses the concepts of feel and timing, including dynamics, accents, articulations, tempo changes, swing, syncopation, polyrhythms, and playing ahead of, on, and behind the beat. Along the way, David demonstrates all of these concepts by playing musical examples on drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, and vocals.
- Notes, measures, and counting
- Rhythm and drum set notation
- Tempo, note lengths, and subdivisions
- Building rhythms
- Rests, triplets, duplets, dots, and ties
- Common time and 3/4 time
- Simple, compound, and odd time signatures
- Choosing a time signature
- Double time and half time
- Dynamics, accents, and articulations
- Tempo and tempo changes
- Choosing to be ahead of, on, or behind the beat
- Swing, syncopation, and off beats
- Polyrhythms (two rhythms at once)