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How to read musical notes: Time Signatures

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Music usually has two numbers at the beginning, one on top of the other. This is called a time signature. The time signature indicates how many beats there are in a measure - the space between bar lines, as well as what the general pace (rhythm) of a song will be.

Bar lines are vertical lines that intersect the entire stave at regular intervals. The end of a piece of music is indicated by a double bar line.

The top number of a time signature indicates how many beats are in a measure. The bottom number indicates the type of note that makes up each beat.

For example:
4/4 - means that there are 4 quarter notes per measure. This is the most popular time signature.
3/4 - means that there are 3 quarter notes per measure.
5/2 - means that there are 5 half notes per measure.
6/8 - means that there are 6 eighth notes per measure.

There are also 2 other common things you might see where the time signature should be:

Common Time same as 4/4 time.
Cute Time , same as 4/4 time, but everything is cut in half. Example: a half note = 1 quarter note, a whole note = 1 half note.

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