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EMT Lesson One  How to read music

Time signatures

At the beginning of each piece of music there is a time signature. The time signature tells us how many beats will be in each of the bars that follow the time signature. If there are a different number of beats in any subsequent bars, then a new time signature is written before that bar to show the change of time signature.

When music has four (4) beats in the bar the time signature is either shown as a 'C', to denote common time (Figure 13), or '4/4' (Figure 14).

Figure 12. Common time   (Enlarge)

Figure 12. Common time

Figure 13. Four four time   (Enlarge)

Figure 13. Four four time

Next: Reading time signatures