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Lesson 4: Meters in 6, 9, and 12

Created by All Star Orchestra.

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  • hopper happy style avatar for user Griffin Johnson
    Why do most songs use 3/4 time signatures?
    (5 votes)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Tikoymoy
      Just for a fun fact: The most common time signature is the 4/4, it is so common that 4/4 is also called "common time", many composers write a C instead of the usual x/x time signature because of this. Therefore if you are a musician and you see a C at the beginning of the piece, you would know it has a 4/4 time signature.
      (12 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Nathan William Brown
    I understand the meaning of the different time signatures but don't completely understand their purpose. I don't completely understand what the purpose for so many signatures is, why isn't music simply standardized to just a few time signatures. Is there a huge difference in the music written in different time signatures given the notes remain the same other than where the measures are located?
    (7 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user jadugg92
      The different time signatures allow for music to express different styles. For example a waltz has a different feel than compared to the tango. If all music was in two or three time signatures, the variety and flexibility that music has would be greatly reduced.
      (6 votes)
  • hopper happy style avatar for user Huai
    Is there any quizzes in this music subject?
    (8 votes)
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  • leafers sapling style avatar for user Samwise
    I am a little confused by the different notes. For instance how do they effect the music? (like Piano) how would a whole note sound different from a half and a half note sound different from a quarter note and so on?
    (3 votes)
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    • leafers seedling style avatar for user Devon McCrea
      It is the feeling, and the pulse of the music. For example, technically you can play a piece that is written in cut time but play the piece in 4/4. Even at the same tempo, it would not have the same feel if you were counting in those two different meters.

      Take the piece 'Cantina Band' by John Williams from Star Wars, at the same tempo and speed, play the piece in the appropriate time signature (2/2) then play the piece in 4/4. Do you notice a difference in the way you played the piece? If you played it right, then you would feel a difference. One is more exciting and dance-like, where the other time signature does not quite have the same excitement. Because this is supposed to be an energetic piece, one to dance to and to be moving forward as fast as it can go, so that is why we play the piece in cut time rather in standard time.

      Did my explanation make sense? If not, then please let me know. This is a good question and you should know why we use different notes and different meters for different musical situations.
      (8 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user timothy.tiefenthaler
    Why don't the musicians have to turn musical sheets more frequently?
    (5 votes)
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  • duskpin tree style avatar for user daniela.ochoa
    Is it possible to simplify time signatures like fractions?
    (2 votes)
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    • leafers tree style avatar for user Faith Marks
      The first number says how many beats there are in a measure. The second number is the fraction of a whole note (semibreve) that is the duration of a beat. In 1/4 (which is only used very rarely because it doesn't really signify much), there is a one-quarter note and it gets the beat.

      It was misleading of me to say that many waltzes are played in 1/4. What I meant to say is that many conductors will only show one beat per measure to their orchestra in a fast waltz because it would be too difficult for them to show three and would be less helpful to their players. I suppose that they're theoretically beating in 1/2 that's subdivided into triplets, but it's irrelevant.

      Simple triple meter (3/4) has one strong emphasis on the third beat and two weaker beats following. Such music would (probably intentionally) confuse the listener as to where the measures begin and end.

      Time signatures are not just about how long measures are. They're also about where the primary and secondary emphases go in the measure.

      There is always one stress/strong accent/(I'm sorry there are a million names for music theory ideas because music theory is not as unified as other theoretical disciplines) per measure. That's why 1/4 isn't used often - it doesn't tell you much of anything that you don't already know. Measures are about beat hierarchy, so just having one per measure is a bit nonsensical (for most pre-20th Century music).

      Hope that helped!!
      Faith
      (1 vote)
  • hopper jumping style avatar for user Grace Fan
    Hi, I play piano and am playing Chopin's waltz in A minor. Is there any way I could make the melody, the right hand sing out a bit? Thanks!
    (1 vote)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user Xyla Ardhia F.
      For that particular piece, I would suggest strongly accenting the first beat of the left hand, and very lightly playing the second and third beats, so you don't drown out the melody of the right hand.

      The melody is very beautiful, but very, very simple, each player needs to add their own personal flair to it. Just plainly playing it wouldn't do it justice. Add lots and lots of crescendos, diminuendos. Try practicing the melody of the right hand separately, and get a feel for the music.

      Tempo isn't that important, but still keep an even pace, especially the left hand. I think mine is marked as "Allegretto", not too fast, but just a little lively, I would suggest around 100-118.

      Finally, it is extremely helpful to record your playing and hear it back. Maybe you'd hear something not obvious while playing. Is the melody drowned out, unclear? Is the phrasing a little uneven?... etc. This applies to any other piece really.

      Was this helpful to you? I'm assuming this is the Waltz in A Minor Op. posth. anyway. It's a great piece to get started on Chopin.
      (3 votes)
  • piceratops sapling style avatar for user Carson McIntire
    Does anybody have it where the video screen is just black?
    (2 votes)
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    • hopper jumping style avatar for user Grace Fan
      Hi Carson,
      I know this is a bit late but this can go for anyone who has had problems like this before. Try reloading the page. If that doesn't work, you can restart the computer. Like Jenna said, sometimes that may be connection or device problems. If that still doesn't work, shut the computer down, wait for a few minutes and start up the computer again.

      Hope this helps!
      Grace
      (2 votes)
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Arquela
    In , why does the musicians move their heads as they play?
    (1 vote)
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  • old spice man green style avatar for user nguyenphuquy2303
    I don't get the different about slow and fast tempo? What does he mean by divide the bar into 2 beats in fast tempo?
    (2 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Shay Pecker
      take 6/8 for example. try to clap on this beat in slow tempo and in fast tempo. youll notice that when the tempo is slow the first count is a bit emphasized and the rest is pretty equal so itll be like [1]23456[1]23456... in the fast tempo youll notice the first will be emphasized and the 4th will be semi emphasised [1]23(4)56[1]23(4)56... it happens since if the tempo is slow every beat in the bar gets its equal place but when the tempo is fast we'll usualy devide the bar (subconciously) to smaller bits we're more comfortable with. it's sort of the flavore/rhythm of the composition
      sorry if im not clear, english is a second language to me
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

- [Instructor] Here is an example of 6/4 time from American composer Joseph Schwantner's The Poet's Hour. Six beats in a measure with the quarter note getting one beat. ("The Poet's Hour") The next meter that we will discuss is 6/8. Six beats in a measure with the eighth note getting one beat. This one is a little more complicated because at a slow tempo or a slow speed we can think of each measure with six beats in a bar. But if a tempo is fast, we divide the bar into two beats with each beat worth three eighth notes or a dotted quarter. For a slow version of 6/8, let's listen to this beautiful passage for the oboes and English horn from Ravel's ballet, Daphnis et Chloe. (gentle music) For a fast version, let's listen to part of the Firebird's Variation from Stravinsky's ballet, The Firebird. (bright music) 9/8 continues with the same pattern. In a slow speed or tempo, each eighth note receives one beat, with nine beats in a bar. In a faster tempo, the pulse is three, with a dotted quarter note receiving one pulse or one beat. 12/8 continues in the same pattern. In a slow tempo, 12 beats in a measure with an eighth note receiving one beat. If we look at the opening of Stravinsky's Firebird, we see 12/8 at the slow temp with a feeling of 12 beats in a measure. (deep somber music) If we look at the same introduction a few bars later, the pulse moves to four beats with a dotted quarter note getting one beat. (light airy music)