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Please note that Common time is the same as 4/4 and Cut time is the same as 2/2. Now allow me to explain some of this music nomenclature to you.If the upper number is four, then there will be four beats in any particular combination of notes. If the upper number is two, then there will be two beats in any particular combination of notes.The lower number refers to the unit that receives the beats. If the lower number is 4, that means that the unit that receives the beat is a quarter note. If the lower number is 8, that means that the unit that receives the beat is an eighth note. If the fraction number is a 6 over 8, then this means that the piece has six beats and each unit receiving a beat is an eighth note.A meter could be classified as either a single or compound meter.
Common Single MetersSingle meters are the most basic and most heavily used meters in music.A single meter uses beats that are not divided.The most common single meters are 2 over 4, 3 over 4 and 4 over 4. A single meter means that each beat will get a quarter note. Common Compound MetersA compound meter uses beats that are divided.Here are the most common compound meters for the purpose of this class. Notice that 6 over 8, 9 over 8 and 12 over 8 are the most common compound meters. Again, this means that it is either 6 beats, or 9 beats, or 12 beats and each beat is going to be an eight note. Tempo Rationale Before you can read music from a music sheet, also known as a music score, you should know how fast or how slow to play it. Tempo is defined as the pace of the beat of the music. The tempo marking instructs the performer about the playing speed of the musicIndicators placed at the beginning of the music score inform the composer about the score’s tempo. Italian composers coined the terms associated with tempo. These are used commonlyby composers around the world.
Aside from Italian, other languages are used in classical music as well. But, as a general rule, Italian is the language mostly used to communicate musical indications.Tempo WhatchamacallitsMusicians and music teachers all over are dependant on one very important tool that allows them to be precise with their tempi. This tool is called the metronome, and is used by musicians to measure the speed of the beats of music. The newest ones use digital technology. I personally believe that digital metronomes are extremely precise, and should especially be used if one wants to play at the correct tempo as specified by the composer. Also, as a music educator, I use the metronome to teach my students the nuances of tempo changes, and consistent use of tempo and rhythm. Tempo MarkingsThe most common tempi used by musicians are displayed below.Please familiarize yourself with these terms and their translations from Italian to English, since they will be used to assess your understanding of tempo indicators.