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abstractnoize
03-13-2006, 05:44 AM
How does one tell what time signature a particular piece is written in by ear?

For example how do you tell that a piece( i.e porpular music) is written in 1/2 and not 2/4?

I can pretty much tell the 3/4 sounds coz they are "waltzy" for lack of abetter term, but I wouldnīt be able to tell the difference between 3/4 and letīs say 6/8.

Do you listen to the drum section of the music for clues or what?

Poparad
03-13-2006, 06:06 AM
Listen for how many beats are in a measure and how those beats are divided.

You can hear how many beats are in a measure by how the pulse is repeated. The first beat in a measure is the strongest, and after a few bars (in popular music, at least) it becomes very clear where each measure begins. This will let you know if it's 2/4, 4/4, or 8/4 or whatever that you're dealing with (usually 4/4).

For beat divisions, it's much simpler: is the beat divided in 2 or is it divided in 3? This is how you tell the difference between 3/4 and 6/8. They both have the same number of eighth notes, but 3/4 has three beats divided into two and 6/8 has two beats divided into three.

As for the difference between something like 1/2 and 2/4, it becomes much more ambiguous. Both of those meters are the same lenghth, and are divided the same way (in groups of 2). The deciding factor is how you hear the beats. Is it just one strong beat being divided, or is it two beats being divided even further? Here, knowing common practices in styles of music helps. In popular music, the beat is almost invariably the quarter note, and at that it's almost always 4/4. In other styles of music, that may change (Cuban music is written and felt with the half note as the beat).

abstractnoize
03-13-2006, 02:36 PM
Thanxx. Iīll give a listen to some music with your detailing in mind and see how it goes.

Apple-Joe
03-14-2006, 04:55 PM
I don't think I have anything to add which Poparad didn't cover. However, I've been working on this subject myself, and I still find it interesting.

What helps me a lot is listening to the hi hat. Especially the closed hi hat. This particular rhythm will in many cases tell you the time signature. You just need to find out the point where the 'cycle' starts over. When you've identified the cycle, analyze its content.

oRg
03-16-2006, 01:42 AM
That's a good starting point Apple...

Although in some free form jazz its actually very hard to tell which time sig their in and you really can't rely on the hi-hat or snare beats. Especially if there's lot of syncopated beats going on.

Apple-Joe
03-17-2006, 05:54 PM
OK, I think this is the most suitable thread for writing what I'm planning to write:

Quite some months ago I wondered how Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and to a certain degree Aerosmith obtained this special groove in their songs. I was almost positive it had to be a particular time signature.

Well, it was not. The trick is to make the close hi hat play 16th notes. The basskick - snare kick groove may very well be a little slow and steady, but the hi hat must be stressed by playing 16th notes. I think several tried to explain me this in several posts, but I am afraid I didn't get it. I thought it had to be a special time signature.

So, it doesn't HAVE to be swing, shuffle, 12/8 or anything. It's the relationship between the kickdrum/snaredrum groove and the hi hat.

curiousgeorge
03-17-2006, 06:30 PM
OK, I think this is the most suitable thread for writing what I'm planning to write:

Quite some months ago I wondered how Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and to a certain degree Aerosmith obtained this special groove in their songs. I was almost positive it had to be a particular time signature.

Well, it was not. The trick is to make the close hi hat play 16th notes. The basskick - snare kick groove may very well be a little slow and steady, but the hi hat must be stressed by playing 16th notes. I think several tried to explain me this in several posts, but I am afraid I didn't get it. I thought it had to be a special time signature.

So, it doesn't HAVE to be swing, shuffle, 12/8 or anything. It's the relationship between the kickdrum/snaredrum groove and the hi hat.

but what about the cowbell? :D