Whenever I teach time signatures, students always ask, “How many different time signatures are there?” and, “Are there songs that count to 5? 6? 7? 8? 9? 10?”
My answer to the first question: Many-many-many different time signatures exist–a composer can create any time signature that suits their song.
My answer to the second question: The “Mission Impossible” theme song is in 5/4.
Have a listen and try to count along. 1-2-3-4-5, go!
Sesame Street’s, “12 (Pinball Count Down)” is an example of a song that has a changing time signature. Despite it’s title, “12” isn’t in 12 at all! The first 2 measures are in 7/8, then it switches through 11/8, 14/8, 3/8 etc. Even I have a difficult time counting along, but it sure is a groovy tune.
Which song do you like better (Mission Impossible or 12), and why? If you could compose a song with a unique time signature, what would that time signature be?
Now, let’s do some TIME SIGNATURE review:
(This will come in handy for the bonus sticker question below)
The top number equals the number of beats per measure.
4 = 4 beats per measure
3 = 3 beats per measure
2 = 2 beats per measure.
The bottom number tells us what each (1) beat is worth.
2 = half note
4 = quarter note
8 = eighth note
2/2 = 2 beats per measure, each beat is represented by a half note.
3/4 = 3 beats per measure, each beat is represented by a quarter note.
6/8 = 6 beats per measure, each beat is represented by an eighth note.
YOUR *BONUS STICKER*, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT:
At your next lesson, explain what 5/4 and 12/8 time signatures mean.
5/4 = ___ beats per measure, each beat is represented by _________note.
12/8 = ___ beats per measure, each beat is represented by __________note.
That’s a lot of information to remember; you may want to write down the answers so you don’t forget!