Talk:Time signature

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WikiProject Music theory (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Music theory, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of music theory, theory terminology, music theorists, and musical analysis on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
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Ambiguous or misleading[edit]

The text currently first uses "common time" (a phrase which is a re-direct to this site) in the following: "(such as or 3 4) (read 'common time' and 'three four time', respectively)." This can easily be incorrectly understood to mean that common time is three four time. Please re-write this. Kdammers (talk) 11:30, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

measure[edit]

I know music is sort of axiomatic, but couldn't there be some way of making the lede clearer? The use of the word measure, while probably necessary, is, as currently used, opaque. It is a linked word, but the text of the link pretty much goes back to the first part of the article's sentence. What makes a measure a measure?Kdammers (talk) 11:41, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure I understand your complaint. The linked word goes to an explanation: "a segment of time defined by a given number of beats, each of which are assigned a particular note value". This only "goes back to the first part of the article's sentence" in the sense that it says a time signature "specif[ies] how many" beats there are and "which note value constitutes one beat". This seems to be the very pinnacle of simplicity and clarity. What part do you find difficult to follow? Does it need to say that "measure" and "bar" (the actual title of the article linked from the word "measure") are synonymous?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:41, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
  • The lead undeniably needs work. I get what it is saying, but to non-musicians or even aspiring musicians who have not had any formal training it think it would be rather difficult to understand. I am also somewhat surprised that the article takes quite some time to getting around to mentioning that 4/4 is by far the most common, as indicated by the fact that is also called common time. To a general audience think this is a very basic fact that could significantly contribute to their understanding of what a time signature is and why they so often hear musicians counting to four or clicking the drumsticks four times. Beeblebrox (talk) 21:31, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
The text is written for musicians as far as I can tell. My problem seems to be that it is like talking to me in Chinese when I don't know that language or telling me about colors if I'm blind. Saying that a measure is a bar does not tell me what a measure is.Kdammers (talk) 03:34, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

reference needed or not for time signatures ?[edit]

Why do we need a reference when the value of the time signature of a piece of music is mentioned ? Wikipedia does rely on the competence of their contributors or not ? It is not difficult for a musician to know that Radiohead's 15 step is in 5/4. It belongs to the category of informations that are neither opinions neither private or "published" in any way by any entity, it is just a scientific reality. If we agree on this, I will contribute by adding a few other examples in popular music. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Laurent S. Vleminckx (talkcontribs) 21:51, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

I think you might want to have a look at Talk:List of musical works in unusual time signatures (and especially the archives of that page) before proceeding to do what you are proposing. Wikipedia emphatically does not (and cannot) rely on the competence of their contributors, especially because there are such things as vandalism and hoaxes.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:26, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
To put it another way, right or wrong you would be violating the principle of no original research. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:40, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for your answer. As a new contributor, I will not engage myself in any troubles and respect your point of view, but if we stick to the principles of no original research, I would tell you that the meaning of my first message was precisely that I consider finding the time signature of a piece of music as a "routine calculation" as it is defined in the Wikipedia rules. I would go even further and say that it is not the fact that a score says that a song is n-tempered that makes the song actually be n-tempered : the song itself provides that information, and the source is thus a secondary source. Though, I must admit that it is true for the "n-tempered" thing but not for the time signature : a song can be attributed a few different time signatures but only one "n-tempered" number provided that n is a prime number (well here we are totally on original research :) ). That leads us to the question of the pertinence of the time signature (I would say that the only real important fact about a song would be the n-tempered number with n being a prime number) but I guess Wikipedia is not the place for such a debate. And thank you Beeblebrox for telling me that Wikipedia does not rely on the competence on the editors, I didn't know it, but I find it really sad. First because then editors are reduced to "sources finders". I thought that some editor having some knowledge in some fields could use that knowledge to enhance the community ? Besides, more generally, how can you guarantee that the journalist or whoever wrote the "source" (often citing another source) provides a more accurate information than the one directly computed by a Wikipedia contributor ?

Well, I guess there are other pages on Wikipedia where to talk about the pertinence of its principles and I guess that I should stick to the rules. Right now I have got some scorebooks so I will contribute with the few songs concerned. Laurent S. Vleminckx (talk) 00:52, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Welcome to the weird and wacky world of Wikipedia. I hope the frustration wears off quickly, and you find the environment congenial. The principle of "no original research" is one of the things that newcomers to Wikipedia have the greatest difficulty getting used to. It is made necessary by the "open" editing used, which requires no credentials at all of editors. Regarding some of the other questions you raise, you should have a look at the introductory paragraphs for the List of musical works in unusual time signatures and the articles Quintuple meter and Septupl meter for discussions of the "pertinence of time signatures" and their possible problematic relationship to the actual meter of any given piece of music. Keep in mind that the subject of the present article is the former rather than the latter, though their inter-relationship is of course part of the discussion.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:34, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Musical parameters in infobox[edit]

Musical parameters in infobox I'm not sure of the best place to ask this, but I've started a discussion over at Template_talk:Infobox_song, which essentially asks whether tempo and key should have their own parameters. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.175.220.114 (talk) 19:35, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Stress and meter[edit]

There's an odd signature and timestamp in that section.--95.116.231.215 (talk) 18:42, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

The result of vandalism, or an extremely clumsy edit. I have reverted it. Thanks for pointing this out.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:00, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

"Irrational" time signatures[edit]

I am going to insist on restoring my previous edits in the section on "irrational" meters. I added a link to dyadic rationals, which is an article about the type of fractions that are most commonly used for time signatures. I also pointed out that so-called "irrational" time signatures are in fact precisely those which are not dyadic rationals, so that "non-dyadic" would be the mathematically proper way to refer to these fractions (rather than "irrational", which is exactly contrary to the mathematical usage of this term). Note that I did not attempt to rename the section, remove the "irrational" terminology, or otherwise conceal the fact that "irrational" is commonly used in this mathematically incorrect sense. My edits were entirely relevant, appropriate, and in the spirit of Wikipedia, and I object in the strongest possible terms to their reversion, especially given the presumptuous, spurious grounds cited by the user responsible ("mathematical details not helpful" -- as if that user's lack of interest in mathematics were a legitimate reason for deleting a pertinent cross-reference!). 24.127.68.167 (talk) 10:51, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

This is an article about music. Whether the terminology used in music corresponds to similar terminology in other fields isn't really relevant (rational is also used in fields like psychology and economics as well, as you can see from the disambiguation page, and the page called irrational isn't even about math), and anyway dyadic rationals include numbers like 3475/65536, which isn't much help in understanding time signatures. I just don't see how including a link to this mathematical topic could assist readers in understanding even this obscure subtopic of musical time signatures. —Wahoofive (talk) 17:59, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Instead of assuming that you are in a position to know why every reader of this article is reading it, why not defer to other editors who did, in fact, happen to come upon the article as readers? There are plenty of people who are interested in the mathematics of music, and they may appreciate the link simply for the background information it provides -- not necessarily because it "helps them understand" the meaning of a particular time signature. This is an encyclopedia, not a pedagogical text. (Though, frankly, I would have appreciated the terminological note even in a pedagogical text.)
(It should also be obvious that the use of "irrational" in this context -- where it directly conflicts with the mathematical usage -- is much more problematic than the uses of this term in fields like psychology, where the meaning is simply unrelated. A note calling attention to the conflict serves to prevent confusion and is entirely appropriate.) 24.127.68.167 (talk) 04:58, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

Alla Breve, cut time[edit]

The second example in the table mentions '2/2' on the left and in the text, but the rightmost column still shows a '4/4' example? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sejtam (talkcontribs) 23:25, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

East versus West[edit]

I'm just some person when talking music, a complete layman, but I recently found myself in a forum where Time Signatures became relevant, yet we were still left with some unresolved issues.

The question arose when talking about the soundtrack to the film Akira. It's posted in its entirety on a youtube channel, and aroused one of the better discussions there. Almost. Some may recall the original film, but most will remember the re-dub, which came with an extensive commentary. In it, most seem to have memory of the composer interviewing about his motivation to use time signatures based on those found in ancient Japanese culture, and of those who saw it, some say this was something like 10/16 or 11/16. Does that... exist?

I noticed no mention of it, specifically, or anything regionally specific, but am wondering if the article in its current state may simply be referring to Western and/or contemporary music, or does it include such a wide description as to cover all musical possibilities?

I suppose the former would mean revision and addition, while the latter would mean... they were wrong!

WillJonassen (talk) 09:40, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Certainly meter signatures (such as 10/16 and 11/16) are specific to the European notation system, and therefore would have been unknown in Japan until modern times (say, the early 17th century). However, it is entirely possible that decuple or undecuple meters may have existed, or perhaps aksak rhythms whose unequal beats can be transcribed into Western notation using meters like 10/16 or 11/16. Notated examples of Japanese music date back as far as the 13th century, though to what extent rhythmic information can be reliably extracted from this notation I do not know. According to the Music of Japan article, rhythms of traditional music are "based on the intervals of human breathing rather than mathematical timing", which suggests that so specific a transcription as 11/16 would have to be very speculative. I am not very well-informed about Japanese traditional music, though, and other editors may have better information to offer.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 15:31, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
It's still an incredible volume of information and knowledge which you've presented, and amazing how much such a response warrants continued learning. This is always great. I did some further research on my own, too, and though I lack the musical vocabulary necessary to carry on a full dialogue, the composition in question centered on the use of the Taiko drum ensemble juxtaposed with the human voice. The Taiko drum, of course, goes naturally with some serious energy. If it follows the breathing of anything, really, it would have to be a herd of stampeding horses, but that's just a side observation. Your mention of "human breathing" intervals does make a certain sort of sense in this context, in fact, as the goal of the film score had been to fully utilize the human vocal chord as an instrument unto itself. Check it out sometime, by the way - it's pure magic with or without the film. To your historical notes, though, those still remain interesting dates, as even the 17th century's point of development would place a new form's popular and cultural usage within a feudal state. A traditionally minded state. It could be a simple matter of untranslatable context, as well, being communicated to an English speaking audience which then led to a confusion. To finalize my own point and original question, still, relating to the aforementioned, it's good to know that there is a specific link to extra-cultural references of this sort. Music of Japan is exactly what I'll check out next - and in the future, I'll have a better grip on where to search for a starting point without assuming any one single article is all-inclusive, thanks to your example.
I appreciate the sincere effort, sincerely.

WillJonassen (talk) 16:55, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

You are very welcome. Just one cautionary note: the Taiko drum ensemble only first came into existence in 1951. While it does draw on some aspects of traditional Japanese music, what they play is a modern interpretation, and the movement has also been "globalized", which means that elements from other cultural streams have influenced performances by such groups.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:06, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, that's just hilarious. I can only assume, then, that the speaker (Musical Director Shoji Yamashiro), who conducted the interview in truncated English, had only made a misstep in his attempt to describe what was a massive project with a very wide and original scope. I suppose that's why no such information could be found... Oh, life. You so and so...

WillJonassen (talk) 17:13, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

"Note values don't match with actual values"[edit]

In a request for clarification, User:70.88.200.134 states that "note values don't match with actual values" in this passage:

For instance, 2
4
means two quarter-note (crotchet) beats per bar—3
8
means three eighth-note (quaver) beats per bar.

This request needs some clarification, I think. In what way does the /4 not match a quarter note (crotchet), and /8 not match an eighth note (quaver)? Or am I missing something here? Is "actual value" some sort of specialized technical term I don't understand?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:33, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps the reference is to compound meters. —Wahoofive (talk) 00:03, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
That's what I thought at first, but if this is the case, the flag is placed in the wrong section: it is here, in the section on simple time signatures.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 01:02, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Conversely, maybe it's a challenge to the concept of beat, which doesn't always line up with the time-signature value. There's plenty of music in 4/4 which is experienced as two beats to the bar, and plenty of 3/4 (or 3/8) music which is one beat to the bar, etc. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:19, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Possibly, though neither "note values" nor "actual values" seem directly to signify the lower numeral in a time signature. I do wish User:70.88.200.134 would chime in here and explain what the problem is. Failing clarification, I think the flag ought to be simply removed.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:11, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
In other words, you want to flag the clarification flag for clarification :-) —Wahoofive (talk) 16:50, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
LOL! Yes, I guess that is exactly what I want to do!—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:40, 17 January 2014 (UTC)