When you start studying piano lessons, you will learn the basic knowledge of music which also includes music time signatures. Time signatures are composed of two numbers in the form of a fraction which tells you the number of notes and the kind of note receiving one beat in each measure. Say what?! That might have been your initial reaction upon reading this definition, believe me, I’ve been there. But don’t worry because I will break down music time signatures for you in an easier to understand manner.
Music time signatures are commonly found at the beginning of each music sheet. These are the fraction numbers written right after the clef on the first staff. The top number lets you know how many beats there are per measure while the bottom number informs you what kind of note receives one beat. The top numbers can be any number but the bottom numbers always follow 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16. No other numbers can be represented at the bottom except for the aforementioned ones because they represent the five different notes.
If you are a bit confused by this, just imagine the bottom number in the form of a fraction with 1 as its top number. When you read the fractions, you will know right away what kind of note they stand for.
The Bottom Number With Their Corresponding Note Values:
1 – whole note
2 – half note
4 – quarter note
8 – eighth note
16 – sixteenth note
Say for example, a music sheet has 4/4 music time signature, this means that there are 4 beats in a measure and the quarter note gets a beat each time. In the staff, you will find four quarter notes or its corresponding equivalent in one measure. Some of the corresponding equivalents of four quarter notes can be two half notes, one whole note, two quarter notes and four eighths, and a few others more. Your guide for knowing the corresponding equivalents of music time signatures will be the length of duration each note has originally.