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# Meter by Marc Schonbrun

The last thing to explain is meter. You encountered one meter at the beginning of this chapter: common time, or meter. Now take a bit of time and look at the different meters.

## Simple Meter

A simple meter is any meter that breaks the beat up into even divisions. This means that whatever the beat is—whether it's , or —each beat (which is a quarter note) is equally divided. The beat is broken into even divisions of two (eighth notes), four (sixteenth notes), or eight (thirty-second) notes.

FIGURE 1.16 Common Simple Meters

What sets a simple meter apart from other meters is how the beats are grouped. The clearest way to see the groupings is through the use of eighth and sixteenth notes. Since the flags join and are visually grouped together, you can easily see how the notes and the beats break down. In a simple meter, you place slight natural accents on the strong beats, which are always on the first note of any rhythmic grouping. Whenever notes are grouped in twos or fours, you are in simple time. Since are the most common meters and are all in simple time, you will become a pro at simple meters in short order!

## Compound Meter

Simple meters have one important feature: groupings of two or four notes. The next meters are compound meters, which are broken into groups of three. This is what makes compound time different from simple time. Common compound meters are. Compound meters usually have an 8 in the lower part of the meter because the meter is based on eighth notes receiving the beat.

Compound time relies on groupings of three notes, so you need to adjust how you view beat durations. A click on the metronome does not always signify a quarter note. What it does signify is the pulse of the music. In common time, that click could be a dotted quarter note, so keep your concept of time elastic.

FIGURE 1.17 Common Compound Meters

FIGURE 1.17 illustrates the three-note groupings of compound meters. That is, , three sixteenth notes would get the beat, but since time is all relative, it all works out the same).

The combination of simple and compound time signatures will get you through most music you'll encounter. Even so, composers and musicians love to stretch the boundaries. All of the meters you've learned about so far have been divided into easy groupings. Other music exists in unusual groupings, called odd time.

Odd time or an odd meter is a meter that is asymmetric or has uneven groupings. Odd time can be expressed whenever 5, 7, 10, 11, 13, and 15 are the top value in a time signature. The bottom of the signature can be any rhythmic value; the top number determines if it's symmetric (simple) or asymmetric (odd) time. Take a look at a basic odd meter like in FIGURE 1.18.

FIGURE 1.18 Odd Time

## ETUDES

At the end of each chapter, you'll have the chance to practice the concepts you've just read about. Each chapter will have five pages of exercises to help you hone your skills. Appendix D contains the completed examples so you can check the accuracy of your work. If possible, write the etudes in pencil in the book, or on scrap music paper so that you can revisit them later.

ETUDE 1.1 Etude One

Name the following treble clef notes

ETUDE 1.2 Etude Two

Name the following bass clef notes

ETUDE 1.3 Etude Three

Name the following alto clef notes

ETUDE 1.4 Etude Four

Count the beats in the following measures. Circle if the measure has too few or too many notes for the given time signature.

ETUDE 1.5 Etude Five