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Thread: 4/3 Time Signature

  1. #46
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivorus
    To JonR, I think what you are missing is the fact that you wouldn't just start using 4/3 for a whole piece. Again, it emerges from time changes. If you are in 2/2 and mid-section you switch to 4/3, you can't just say "oh, that should be 4/4" and write it as such without changing anything else, just like if you are in 6/8 and you need to switch to 4/8, you can't just say "instead I'll use 4/4 because it's more common." If you were to do so, you would need to scale your notes in that measure and also notate a tempo change.
    Yes, I understand all that. I was speaking from the perspective of 4/3 as a change of metre within a piece.
    What you say makes perfect sense, and I suspect I wasn't clear enough in what I was saying....

  2. #47
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Sorry to butt in here... I think the argument that there is a 4/3 time signature puts the cart before the horse. I mean, the reason that music is notated is for communication, musicians play with other musicians and make music. If I notated one of my songs with an odd bar of 4/3, nobody would know what to do with it and certainly would not be able to sight read it. When you study notation, the basic rule is to notate it the way that would make it easy for somebody to read.

    It seems silly to even be talking about such a thing......

    -CJ

  3. #48
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivorus
    Close. I'm a computer programmer
    I should have known. I thought about it when I saw you use "==" for equality as opposed to "=" .
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  4. #49
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ
    Sorry to butt in here... I think the argument that there is a 4/3 time signature puts the cart before the horse. I mean, the reason that music is notated is for communication, musicians play with other musicians and make music. If I notated one of my songs with an odd bar of 4/3, nobody would know what to do with it and certainly would not be able to sight read it. When you study notation, the basic rule is to notate it the way that would make it easy for somebody to read.

    It seems silly to even be talking about such a thing......

    -CJ
    Well, I agree. But I guess there are situations (or rather musicians) for which such notation is understandable and useful. Personally I haven't encountered any, and don't plan to.

  5. #50
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    Wouldn't 4/3 just be 4 dotted half notes?

    Think of it as a slower 12/8 (4 dotted quarter notes)

    However I suspect the original poster may be thinking of 3/4 rather than 4/3?
    Last edited by jessmanca; 09-11-2007 at 12:07 PM.

  6. #51
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jessmanca
    Wouldn't 4/3 just be 4 dotted half notes?
    No, a metre where the beat was a dotted half-note would be 12/4 time. (4 beats of 3/4 of a bar each, IOW, a dotted half-note.)

    The beat value in 4/3 is 1/3 of a bar, represented as a half-note triplet.
    IOW, imagine a 4/4 bar with 3 evenly spaced beats. These would be written as half-note triplets, bracketed with a figure 3. Each note is 33% longer than a quarter-note beat.
    A "4/3" time sig, therefore (if I've understood all the preceding thread correctly... ) is a bar containing 4 of these note values. IOW, 1+1/3 quarter notes longer than a standard 4/4 bar, but still evenly divided into 4 beats - therefore (to the ear) a slower tempo than 4/4
    Therefore (again AFAIK), it only makes sense in the context of a piece that has been in 4/4 up to that point.
    (I'm only trying to summarise Rivorus's posts, which I think explain the issue perfectly, if perhaps with some dizzying mathematics...)
    Quote Originally Posted by jessmanca
    However I suspect the original poster may be thinking of 3/4 rather than 4/3?
    That though crossed my mind at first, but I don't think that's the case.

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by jessmanca
    However I suspect the original poster may be thinking of 3/4 rather than 4/3?
    I meant 4/3. Not 3/4!

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    No, a metre where the beat was a dotted half-note would be 12/4 time. (4 beats of 3/4 of a bar each, IOW, a dotted half-note.)

    The beat value in 4/3 is 1/3 of a bar, represented as a half-note triplet.
    IOW, imagine a 4/4 bar with 3 evenly spaced beats. These would be written as half-note triplets, bracketed with a figure 3. Each note is 33% longer than a quarter-note beat.
    A "4/3" time sig, therefore (if I've understood all the preceding thread correctly... ) is a bar containing 4 of these note values. IOW, 1+1/3 quarter notes longer than a standard 4/4 bar, but still evenly divided into 4 beats - therefore (to the ear) a slower tempo than 4/4
    Therefore (again AFAIK), it only makes sense in the context of a piece that has been in 4/4 up to that point.
    (I'm only trying to summarise Rivorus's posts, which I think explain the issue perfectly, if perhaps with some dizzying mathematics...)
    That though crossed my mind at first, but I don't think that's the case.
    Ah, well if that's the case, then 4/3 would be better represented as 4/2 or 12/4 - let me explain.

    The beat note is defined by the subdivision of the beat. For example we use 12/8 (eighth note as the beat note) even though the beat note is truly a dotted-quarter note.

    So that leaves us with the question, what is the subdivision of the beat note in 4/3?

    -If you we to divide the half note triplets into 2 each, you would have 6 quarter notes, resulting in a meter of 6/4, better described as 4/2 since the half note gets the beat.

    If you were to divide the half note triplets into 3 parts each, you would have 12 quarter notes, which would be better named 12/4.

    So is 4/3 equal to 4/2 or 12/4?

  9. #54
    Internet Superstar Rivorus's Avatar
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    I and others already went through explaining 4/3 in the earlier three pages of the thread, so you may want to read that because you are asking some things that have already been covered a few times over. In particular, I provided a few mp3s, sheet music, and written explanations of 4/3 in this post.

    Quote Originally Posted by jessmanca
    The beat note is defined by the subdivision of the beat. For example we use 12/8 (eighth note as the beat note) even though the beat note is truly a dotted-quarter note.

    So that leaves us with the question, what is the subdivision of the beat note in 4/3?
    Don't be confused by the fact that it's 4/3 as opposed to 4/4, 4/2, 4/8, etc. Whether a time signature is simple or compound is determined by the upper value only. A 4 on the top implies simple meter, and as with any simple meter, the divider gets the beat. It could be 4/π and the time signature would still be simple (though irrational). So, much like with 4/4, you count 4/3 as 1,2,3,4. Time signatures such as 6/8, 9/8, etc. are compound only because the upper portion of the signature is divisible by 3.

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivorus
    I and others already went through explaining 4/3 in the earlier three pages of the thread, so you may want to read that because you are asking some things that have already been covered a few times over. In particular, I provided a few mp3s, sheet music, and written explanations of 4/3 in this post.



    Don't be confused by the fact that it's 4/3 as opposed to 4/4, 4/2, 4/8, etc. Whether a time signature is simple or compound is determined by the upper value only. A 4 on the top implies simple meter, and as with any simple meter, the divider gets the beat. It could be 4/π and the time signature would still be simple (though irrational). So, much like with 4/4, you count 4/3 as 1,2,3,4. Time signatures such as 6/8, 9/8, etc. are compound only because the upper portion of the signature is divisible by 3.
    The point I was making then is, when you apply the "triplet beat note" to a meter it loses it's triplet symbol, the triplet half notes simply become half notes, and since, as you stated 4/3 is simple meter, it can be more easily defined as 4/2.

    There is no practical purpose to call it 4/3 when you can call it 4/2 and it would contain the same beat notes and subdivisions. You can simplify meters much like simplifying fractions.

  11. #56
    Internet Superstar Rivorus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jessmanca
    The point I was making then is, when you apply the "triplet beat note" to a meter it loses it's triplet symbol, the triplet half notes simply become half notes, and since, as you stated 4/3 is simple meter, it can be more easily defined as 4/2.

    There is no practical purpose to call it 4/3 when you can call it 4/2 and it would contain the same beat notes and subdivisions. You can simplify meters much like simplifying fractions.
    And, as I just said, not to be rude, all of this was explained in depth in the previous 3 pages and I encourage you to read them. Your problem is you are looking at the time signatures out of context. It would be very odd for someone to ever use a signature such as 4/3 for a whole piece, however, if in the middle of the section you switch time signatures in such a way that the duration which defines the new beat is a duration that was a triplet in a previous signature, the new signature is going to be irrational, such as 4/3. There are sort of hacks we use to get around this in an attempt to make music more readable, which I described already, but such irrational time signatures really are correct representations of the meter and generally are not just thrown in for the sake of being confusing.

    I provide an example of irrational meter on the 3rd page of the thread and I linked to the exact post in my previous reply. In it, I show alternative notations and explain the strengths of the irrational meter representation when compared to other alternatives. Again, I do not advocate them, but there are very definite advantages to them, which is why they are sometimes used. From a purely theoretical standpoint, they often are the most accurate way to represent new time signatures without forced tempo changes or unwanted alterations in counting.

  12. #57
    Registered User Joe Pass Jr's Avatar
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    Not intending to steer people away from this forum. I raised this same topic on another site (one that i know to have alot more of the 'academic' type members) and received some interesting responses.

    http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/showthread.php?t=24555

    By now I have made my mind up on the subject, but some of you might find interesting the viewpoints other people have shared.
    Its not the techniques you use, but the music you make.

  13. #58
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    Please people be reasonable with your thoughts: IF 4/3 is IRRATIONAL then 3/4 is IRRATIONAL too. It is equally ridiculous to suggest that there be three quarters making up a whole as it is to suggest that there be four thirds making up a whole. Now I realize that music has been built this way for a long time but what AshedFog is bringing to light here is therefore a major change in the way we see, read and hear music! Together we can agree to if we should choose to only use the time signatures that are mathematically coherent from now on: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6 etc.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !

  14. #59
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FiggyVonBronson View Post
    Please people be reasonable with your thoughts: IF 4/3 is IRRATIONAL then 3/4 is IRRATIONAL too. It is equally ridiculous to suggest that there be three quarters making up a whole as it is to suggest that there be four thirds making up a whole. Now I realize that music has been built this way for a long time but what AshedFog is bringing to light here is therefore a major change in the way we see, read and hear music! Together we can agree to if we should choose to only use the time signatures that are mathematically coherent from now on: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6 etc.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !
    Well, talking of "irrational", this thread is 8 years old, and I'm only here because I noticed you'd blown the dust off it... (and I have nothing better to do right now)

    The idea of calling a note a "quarter note" is a recent Americanism based on 4/4 being a common enough metre. Which then leads to the idea of "3/4" making less sense because 3 quarters don't make a whole! So anyone who uses the term "quarter note" only has themselves to blame!

    The old term for that note is "crotchet", which has no fractional meaning. So you can put as many as you like in a bar.

    Meanwhile, talking of a "4/3" time sig is meaningless because convention doesn't recognise any such symbol as a "1/3 note". All our note symbols are duple. Anyone using 4/3 has to first define what the "3" means. (And there is no need, because however the music sounds, there will be a traditional convention that will cover it, even if sometimes it might result in something looking more complicated than the music seems to warrant.)

    Then again, I detect an element of sarcasm in your proposal for "mathematically coherent" time signatures. It's a misunderstanding of time sigs to see them as simple fractions (as I'm sure you realise).
    AshedFog was bringing nothing at all "to light", other than some wacky idea of a friend of his who didn't understand it himself! (And as he revealed later, AshedFog had little more knowledge of notation conventions than his friend did.)

    It's quite common for people who understand little about either notation or music theory to think they've come up with brilliant new "simple" ways to notate and explain music, which actually do nothing of the sort.

    One might reasonably argue that the notation conventions tend to encourage a conservative approach to time and rhythm ("if it ain't broke..."), but it's at least advisable to be fully conversant with the conventions before one picks holes in them. Otherwise those holes are simply holes in one's knowledge, not holes in the conventions.

  15. #60
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    Carl Orff's system is very elegant...

    Orff_time_signatures.gif

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