Lesson 50

Time Signature, Measures & Barlines

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Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman. Today we're going to be taking a closer look at the rhythm of "Listen for Bells" from way back in unit one, but trust me, there's a good reason we're going back to "Listen for Bells" because it will help us uncover the secrets of a new rhythm term called time signature, so let's come to the heartbeat mat to get started. Here I have noted the rhythm of "Listen for Bells" which we figured out in a previous lesson, but let's refresh your memory by singing through it once. Can you point to each beat with me and let's sing the words. Listen for bells in the steeple to ring. Then we do it again, ding-ding-ding-ding-ding ding-ding-ding-ding-ding. Good, now remember we've got our dotted half note here which last for all three of these beats. Ding. The rest of the notes we have all quarter notes. Now today we're going to figure out something about how beats work in music. There are patterns of strong beats and weaker beats. Listen to these first three beats and tell me if you can tell which of these first three is the strongest beat. Listen for. Could you point to the beat you think is the strongest sound. Listen for. If you pointed to the first beat you're correct, and words kind of have a natural strength, if you say the word "listen" there's a natural strength on that first syllable. You wouldn't say li-STEN or listen FOR, it sounds most natural to go, listen for, with a strong beat right here. Now let's look at the next three beats. Tell me if you can tell where the strong beat is in this group. Bells in the. Listen again. Bells in the. Where's the strong beat? Once again it was the first beat of the group of three. Now let's keep on going. Steeple to. Where did you hear the strong beat? Once again it was the first of this group of three. How about ring? This was kind of obvious. This 1st beat has the most strength because that's where the note occurs, and then these next 2 beats it's just sustaining. So you're probably noticing a pattern. The beats are actually arranged in groups of three in this song. Every three beats there's a strong beat. Listen for bells in the steeple to ring. The way we show groups of strong and weak beats is by using what's called bar lines. Bar lines are little vertical lines that will be placed in the music in between a recurring number of beats. In this song it's every three beats there's a bar line, and almost all music is arranged this way in groups, recurring groups of strong and weak beats, and the first beat is always the strongest, so this bar line is kind of a signal to you that that next beats going to be strong. Now let's this time instead of singing the words to "Listen for bells" can you count one, two, three with me, actually sing it to the tune of "Listen for bells" but let's point and every time we say a beat one we'll sing it a little extra strong. Ready, try it with me counting, 123 123 123 123 123 Very good, so one new term we have so far today is bar line. Every one of these vertical lines is a bar line. Bar lines separate beats into what are called measures. One measure is a group of beats in between two bar lines, so here's one measure, here's another measure, here's the third measure, and here's a fourth measure. So right now we're looking at four measures worth of beats, and actually there usually isn't a bar line at the start of a piece. We'd usually place here a time signature. A time signature always consists of two fancy-looking numbers stacked right over each other, and the signature is always placed at the beginning of the score, right after the clef. The top number tells you how many beats per measure, so once again for "Listen for bells" that's why this top number is 3, because we have three beats in every measure. Now I've changed out my time signature for a 2/4 time signature. This top number two now tells us that there will be two beats in every measure with the bar lines separating it out. This rhythm happens to be The Wild Horses" and you'll hear the strong beat at the start of every measure. Listen. This is the dance of the wild and running horses. You feel how that first beat is the strong one? It wouldn't sound good to go, this is the dance of the, sounds kind of awkward. It's this is the dance of the wild and running horses. This time the strong and weak beats are in groups of two. Here's another song you know, and this time what's our time signature? It's 4/4. This top number four is telling us what? It has four beats in every measure. 1 2 3 4 beats and then a bar line. And what about this measure? Is this a full measure? No, it's only two beats, which means our measure isn't done, which is why there's no bar line here. Measures can actually go off one line and continue on to this line. We have beats one, two, three, four, bar line, then four more beats, one, two, three, four, bar line. Let's see if you can guess what song this is. bah-bah-bah-bah bah-bah-bah-bah bah-bah-bah-bah bah-bah-bah-bah. That's right, it's five woodpeckers. It's also possible to have lots of other time signatures. There's 5/4, you can even have 10/4, or 19/4. Excuse me, Mr. Hoffman? Yes, Princess? Well, you explain the top number of time signature very nicely... Yeah, the ...