Music Theory
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Lesson 9

 

Compound Meter

 

We return to the study of rhythm with this lesson.  Before moving on to our topic of the day—compound meter—I would like to review what we learned about simple meter in lesson 4.  In simple meter, the beat is assigned to a specific note value and is divided into two equal units. There are generally either two, three, or four beats per measure (simple duple, simple triple, and simple quadruple, respectively).  This is all summarized by the time signature, whose top number tells you how many beats there are in a measure, and whose bottom number tells you what note value is given to the beat.  We can see all these things in action when we look at “Yankee Doodle.”  It is in simple duple meter, with the quarter note equal to the beat and each beat divided into two eighth notes (this is why every two eighth notes are beamed together).

 

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© Copyright 2005

Mark McFarland