Sight Reading 101

Time Signatures




Time signatures are the numbers that look like a fraction, usually at the beginning of the staff. This number tells you what time the music is written in; how to count and play the music in the correct timing.

Time Signature


The bottom number of the time signature indicates the type of note used as the main "unit" of measurement used in the music (quarter note, half note, etc.).

Time Signature


The top number indicates how many beats, or those "units," will occur per measure.

Time Signature


So, the 3/4 time signature indicates that the count for this song will be three quarter notes per measure.

You would count 3/4 time like this:

ONE - TWO - THREE, ONE - TWO - THREE, etc...




Here are other commonly used time signatures:

Time Signature

The 2/4 time signature indicates that the count for this song will be two beats per measure, with the quarter note being the "unit" of measurement.






Time Signature

The C time signature is the common way to indicate that the time signature is 4/4. Because 4/4 time is the most commonly used time signature, the C actually stands for "common time." It indicates that the count for this song will be four beats per measure, with the quarter note being the "unit" of measurement.






Time Signature

The 5/4 time signature indicates that the count for this song will be five beats per measure, with the quarter note being the "unit" of measurement.






Time Signature

The 6/8 time signature indicates that the count for this song will be six beats per measure, with the eighth note being the "unit" of measurement.






Time Signature

The 7/4 time signature indicates that the count for this song will be seven beats per measure, with the quarter note being the "unit" of measurement.








Course Map:

Introduction | Course Directory | The Staff | Lines, Spaces and Ledger Lines | Flash Cards I: Learning the Notes | The Fret Board | Reading Exercises On Each String | Note and Rest Values | Time Signatures | Rhythm Exercises, Part I | Triplets and Dotted Notes & Rests | Rhythm Exercises, Part II | Flash Cards II: Rhythm Values | Ties | Rhythm Exercises, Part III | Simple Melodies | Course Conclusion

Glossary of Terms






Copyright 1999 T.A. Vieira, Jr.