1.189 meter

ES: tiempo, compás, I: tempo, misura, F: indication de mesure, mesure, D: Taktart, Metrum, NL: maatsoort, DK: taktart, S: taktart, FI: aika-arvo.

The pattern of note values and accents in a composition or a section thereof. There are a couple ways to classify ‘traditional’ meter (i.e. not polymeter): by grouping beats and by subdividing the primary beat.

By grouping beats:

Other than triple meter and its subdivided variants (see below), meters that feature odd groupings of beats (e.g. quintuple or septuple meter) are not frequently used prior to the 20th Century.

By subdividing the primary beat:

Time signatures are placed at the beginning of a composition (or section) to indicate the meter. For instance, a piece written in simple triple meter with a beat on each quarter note is conventionally written with a time signature of 3/4. Here are some combinations of the two classifications above:

Simple duple meter (F.J. Haydn, 1732-1809; or a Croatian folk tune):

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Simple triple meter:

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Simple quadruple meter (French folk tune, Au clair de la lune):

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Simple quintuple meter (B. Marcello, 1686-1739):

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(Aside: this is an example of Augenmusik: the accidentals are thus in the source, with sharps in the accompaniment where the voice has flats and vice versa.)

Compound duple meter (unknown):

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Compound triple meter (J.S. Bach, 1685-1750):

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Compound quadruple meter (P. Yon, 1886-1943):

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‘Monometer’ vs Polymeter

TODO: add information from discussion on lilypond-user related to polymeter.

See also

accent, hemiola, note value, time signature


Music glossary