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Piano Nanny - Free Piano Lessons
Time Signatures

Starter Studies

Lesson 10 - Section 1

Time Signatures in Depth

Hopefully by now, you have been practicing songs out of the book I asked you to get in the last lesson. In that book you may be seeing some new Time Signatures such as the ones shown on the staff in the image for this section.

Each Time Signature shows the size of each measure the same as a 4/4 Time Signature.

A 3/4 Time Signature is stating that each measure will have 3 quarter notes. A 2/4 Time Signature is stating that each measure will have 2 quarter notes. A 6/8 Time Signature is stating that each measure will have 6 eighth notes.

In general, a Time Signature of 3/4 is used for a Waltz 
In general, a Time Signature of 2/4 is used for a March or Polka 
In general, a Time Signature of 6/8 is used for a triplet feel

In the next section is a library of Time Signatures along with examples of each rhythm.


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Lesson 10 - Section 2

A Library of Time Signatures

This library of Time Signatures (along with examples of each rhythm) may take a few minutes to load into your browser. If you need a break, now would be a good time to take one. As the page loads, feel free to listen to a song entitled “Take Five” by Paul Desmond. Just play the mp3 audio file below: 



I would also like to give credit to the MIDI song arranger of this file. It’s a good job, well done. Thank You. This song is in a Time Signature of 5/4. There are 5 quarter notes per measure. If you combine 1 measure of 3/4 and 1 measure of 2/4, you will get 1 measure of 5/4. There are many pieces of music that combine different Time Signatures to create a unique arrangement of music.

Waltz time – 3/4



March time – 2/4



Triplet-Feel time – 6/8



Cut time – 2/4



Half time – football . . . just kidding . . .



The best way to learn these “Musical Styles” (these Time Signatures) is to listen to them. By listening to them, you will be able hear the style in your head before you play it. When you see a 3/4 on the staff, you will be able to recall a Waltz that you have listened to before. And, you will then have some idea of what the music should sound like before you begin playing it. This is important!

Band Leaders, Music Teachers and Composers will communicate how they want you to play a piece of music by referring to it’s style.

Let’s look at a list of common styles:

Waltz in 3/4
Jazz Waltz in 3/4
Dixieland in Cut Time (2/4) see C with vertical line through it below.
Polka in Cut Time (2/4) see C with vertical line through it below.
Polka in 4/4
Jazz Waltz in 6/8
March in 4/4
March in Cut Time (2/4) see C with vertical line through it below.
Jazz Waltz in 5/4
Latin, Bossa, in 4/4
Ballad in 4/4
Ballad in 3/4
Ballad in 6/8
Swing in 4/4
12 Bar Blues in 4/4

And, there are hundreds more in Classical, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Oriental, Folk Music, Rock, etc.










Time Signatures

Lesson 10 - Section 3

You’ve done well!

That’s it for Lesson Number Ten.

There is a lot to learn about music. This is why it takes so long to know it. For most people, it is a life time of learning and sharing what they learn. You’ve done well. Teddy bear hug time again. Give yourself a large hug and pat on the back. You have earned it.

For fun, you may want to return to Section 2 and play for a while. Go back and turn on one example at a time, and on your keyboard, see if you can reproduce what you hear. Each example is in the Key of C (no black notes) so you can eliminate any sharps or flats. Use your left hand. Experiment until you find something that sounds the same as the example. Have fun. Don’t work too hard at it. This is just for fun for now. We will be working on Ear Training and Chord Patterns for the left hand in later lessons.



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