HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips


TYPE- Theory 101




BUMPER MUSIC- "Gone In 70 Seconds" (Area 47 Music)


ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe


In order to play with other musicians, you have to be on the same page as them, rhythmically and tonally. In this episode, we will tackle the rhythmic aspect of music and how to identify what time signature (or meter signature) by using your ears alone. We will also have a little fun discussing some odd time signatures and when and where they have been used, in the classical music genre

and in pop music.


TIME SIGNATURE- A number representing the  grouping of beats that comprise the meter and the the kind of note that takes a beat.


SIMPLE METER- When the pulses can be divided into 2's.


COMPOUND METER- When the pulses can be divided into 3's.


SYNCOPATION- Stressed beats occurring in abnormal places. An accented beat that occurs in a space normally reserved for weaker beats.

EXAMPLES in Classical musIc

"Appalachian Spring" (Aaron Copeland)- The 3rd bars of rehearsals 46 and 48 are in 1/2 time.

"Petrushka" (Igor Stravinski)- The bar leading into rehearsal 17 is in 1/4 time.

"The Rite of Spring" (Igor Stravinski)- Odd time signatures are used throughout the piece. However, there is also a lot of SYNCOPATION, stressed beats occurring in odd places over an even time signature.

"Gigue" (J.S. Bach)- The last movement of the 6th partita is 2/1.

"Claro y Consico" (Carlos Chavez)- 4th movement from Piano Sonata No. 3 is in 2 1/2 / 4.

"String Quartet, Op. 28" (Anton Webern)- The 3rd movement contains measures of 3/16 between m. 40-41 and again between m. 44-51.  Because this piece is atonal, it may be difficult to listen for the downbeat if your listening for a I chord, or a tonic.

"Driftwood Suite, Opus 54" (Gardener Read)- This piece uses 3 1/2 / 4 as well as 5 1/2 / 4.

"Jesu, The Joy of Mans Desiring" (J.S. Bach)- This familiar piece is in 9/8. It sounds almost like a hurried waltz.


"All You Need Is Love" (The Beatles)- The verse pattern is split into two 7/4 measures and a single bar of 8/4, followed by a one bar return of 7/4. The chorus maintains a steady 4/4 beat with the exception of the last bar of 6/4.

"Happiness Is A Warm Gun" (The Beatles)- This one is filled with mixed time signatures. The first half of the song includes 4/4, 2/4, and 5/4.  The second half of the song includes 3/8. The third part includes 9/8 and 10/8. The ending is in 12/8.

"Money" (Pink Floyd)- The verse is in 7/4 and the chorus briefly touches on common time but quickly returns to 7/4.

"Take 5" (Paul Desmond)- Made famous by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, this jazz standard is in 5/4 throughout the piece.

"Mission Impossible" (Lalo Schifrin)- This up beat, iconic theme is in 5/4 throughout.

"Mario Kart 64" (Kenta Nagata)- The "race results screen" theme is in 11/8.

"Eleven" (Primus) and "The Eleven" (Grateful Dead) are both in 11/8.

Parts of "Crystalline", "Hollow" and "Moon" (Bjork) include 17/4 and 17/8.

"Keep It Greasy" (Frank Zappa)- The 1st verse and solo are 19/16. The following part is 21/16.


-Listening for the stressed and unstressed beats is a great way to find rather you are in compound or simple meter. 3/4 and 6/8 are really completely different.

-One way to determine a time signature is to the listen for the "downbeat", call it your beat # 1 and count up until the next downbeat. The kick or bass drum will often occur on the down beat. The notes and chords that a piece of music is centered around will often occur here as well.

-Listen for the beginnings and endings of phrases to find the downbeat.

-Composing music for film and television often involves time changes in order to better time the music with the scenes and actions.