These are meters, or time signatures. People throw around the words, beat, meter, tempo, rhythm, and others, as if they all mean the same. They do not. These meters organize the beats in each measure (or bar) into groups, so you can count them and know where you are, and stay with the other people playing along....
Best answer: These are meters, or time signatures. People throw around the words, beat, meter, tempo, rhythm, and others, as if they all mean the same. They do not. These meters organize the beats in each measure (or bar) into groups, so you can count them and know where you are, and stay with the other people playing along. Whether there is a 2 , 4, 8, or 16 on the bottom has NOTHING to do with the tempo (speed) - things in 2/2 meter sometimes fly like the wind, and sometimes are slow Renaissance works. One of my students is playing a work in 3/8 meter, that starts VERY slowly, and although there are not tempo changes indicated, the DIVISION of the beat gets smaller and smaller - all the way to 128th notes - so that SECTION is played really fast - but the BEAT stays the same; think of cutting a cake in half, versus cutting it into tiny squares - the CAKE never changed in size. RHYTHM is the small pattern(s) that you play in each beat; if you are tapping you foot to the bass player playing on the beat, and a rapper is performing so that there are a dozen syllables to each beat, or a guitar soloist is shredding out 16 notes to each beat - the BEAT never changed, and the METER never changed - but the RHYTHM sure did!
So let's say that you are playing a piece in band that is in 4/4 - written with 4 quarter notes in each bar, or any combination of notes (rhythm) that ADDS UP to 4 quarters - just like money. There might reach a point where the conductor says "we are playing this pretty fast - so I am conducting to conduct in "in 2" - as if it was written in 2/2 meter. For you playing, this is like you counting pennies, or checkers, or jelly beans TWO at a time - easier, faster, but you will still get the same result as it you counted them one at a time.
How do you decide HOW FAST to play? There might be a word at the top - sometimes in Italian ( long story) that tells you about how fast. Largo - really slow. Allegro - reasonably fast - and there are a few dozen other word musicians use, if not using English, or the language of their country. The Gold Standard for accuracy is a metronome - since Beethoven's time, we can indicate exactly how fast we want the best in each measure (in each meter) to go. Those folks who play for film scores have a conductor who must keep them EXACTLY in the right tempo to match the scenes in the film. Even stricter! Sometimes, we set a goal for ourselves, and check that TODAY, we can play a hard solo at 72; each day, we try to get it up to 76, 80, etc. until we are satisfied.
So you will find lots of people who use these words interchangeably - much to the confusion or aggravation of many of us - or we just figure out when they mean, and let it go . . .
BTW - 6/8 and 12/8 are compound meters - I will not even go there today, but if you are curious, or you have a teacher who asks - come on back, and I will break it down.
Added - Because I do not answer emails to my account here - Anyone who tells you that certain rhythms, meters, modes, scales, melodies, etc. are SATANIC, evil, demented, cursed, etc. - are just crazy. In ancient times - when SUPERSTITION was often passed off as religion ( please - let this go . . . ) folks were told all kinds of junk - and centuries later, there are jerks who repeat this crap. If you want to write music and get tats that dedicate your life to this stuff - you go knock yourself out, kid. Or grow up, and snap out of this.
3 months ago