Time Classification

Time Classification Topics: Beat – Meter – Duple and Triple Time – Simple and Compound Time – Borrowed Divisions – Subdivisions of the beat

The beat is the repeating pulse of music.

The beat (sometimes called pulse) determines the tempo -or how fast or slow a piece of music is played. The beat also divides time into smaller duration units in a measure. There are weak beats and strong beats where the pulse is emphasized in a pattern. The varying patterns of strong and weak beat create meter.

Strong beats are those that where the pulse is emphasized. Weak beats are those less emphasized than the strong ones.

The most basic of beat pattern is that which alternates strong and weak. This is called duple meter and has strong-weak beat patterns.

A strong beat uses this symbol: >
The weak beat counterpart uses this symbol: U

Patterns consisting of > U U have three beats before repeating itself. This is called triple meter and has strong-weak-weak pulsations or > U U.

Compare the beat patterns below with two additions:

Duple: > U

Triple: > U U

Quadruple: > U > U

Quintuple: > U > U U or > U U > U

Beats can be divided into either two equal parts or three equal parts. When beats can be divided into two equal parts, it is known as simple time. When beats can be divided into three equal parts, it is known as compound time. We use the following terms below for equal beat division:

Divided into 2 parts is called duple -or two beats per measure

Divided into 3 parts is called triple -or three beats per measure

Divided into 4 parts is called quadruple -or four beats per measure

Divided into 5 parts is called quintuple -or five beats per measure

This should not be confused with simple or compound time where that refers to how the beats are divided.

The organization of the meter and the normal division of the beat is called time classification. Beginning with duple meter, for example, the beat is strong-weak (or > U ).

When beats can be divided into two equal parts we call the time classification duple-simple. This means that there are two beats per measure and each beat is divided into two equal parts.

When duple meter beats can be divided into three equal parts, we would say the time classification is duple-compound. This means that there are two beats per measure and each beat is divided into three equal parts.

Simple time means that beats are divided into two equal parts and compound time means beats are divided into three equal parts. ^example songs?

When looking at a time classification, notice that the first portion shows the number of beats per measure. The second number shows the normal division of the beat. PIC

Below is a summary of what we’ve discussed…

Triple-simple = three beats per measure and division of each beat into two equal parts

Quadruple-compound = four beats per measure and division of each beat into three equal parts

Quadruple-simple = four beats per measure and division of each beat into two equal parts

Duple-compound = two beats per measure and division of each beat into three equal parts

Duple-simple = two beats per measure and division of each beat into two equal parts

Quintuple-compound = five beats per measure and division of each beat into three equal parts

When the beat in simple time is divided into three equal parts it is called a borrowed division or triplet. A borrowed division in compound time is when the beat is divided into two equal parts. The example below shows this division.

borrowed division or triplet

 

In summary:

The natural division of the beat in simple time is: 2

The natural division of the beat in compound time is: 3

The natural subdivision of the beat in simple time is: 4

The natural subdivision of the beat in compound time is: 6

 

In simple time a borrowed division divides the beat into 3 parts.

In compound time a borrowed division divides the beat into 2 parts.

 

The triplet is the same as a borrowed division in simple time.

The duplet is the same as a borrowed division in compound time.

Next section is Notes and Rests