Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Music Theory/Time Signatures


Im currently have trouble understanding the bottom number in a time signature. The top number is how many beats are supposed to be in the measure, right? I mean, the bottom number is easy enough for me if the note values are all of the same type.

Like, 4/4 is 4 quarter notes, and 4/8 is 4 eighth notes right? So how would I write music in measures, if I wanted to mix different note values in a measure. Like if I wanted to use I dont know, lets say...2 quarter notes, 2 eight notes, or just something along those lines.

I dont know understand how that works/how to write it out. Im not very good with fractions, so this is actually very difficult for me. If you could help me with this, it would be greatly appreciated, as I have always wanted to write music.

The key signature means that--with 4/4-- there are four beats per measure and every quarter (4=quarter) note gets one  beat.  If you write a piece in 4/4, each measure would have four beats.  It's really not about fractions, but about how many beats to put in each measure. If you wrote a piece in 3/8, it'd be three beats per measure and each eighth note would get one beat.


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Joel Bjorling


I can answer general questions about playing the piano, playing technique, and piano literature.


I have played piano for over forty years. I have taught private piano. I have also played in church. I am especially interested in the piano as a music ministry. I have also written several compositions for piano.

I'm a past member of the National Guild of Piano Teachers.

Making Music Magazine Newsletter of the Illinois Country Music Association

BA, Behavioral Science, Oral Roberts University (1975) MA, McCormick Theological Seminary (1980) I have had courses in Music Appreciation, Music Theory, and in Hymnology

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