Measures and Time Signatures

C D E F G A B C D

The staff is divided into Measures. The line above has two measures. Measures are separated by a vertical line.

The Time Signature, highlighted above, is written at the beginning of the line, after the clef (and key signature, which you will learn about later). It provides information about the timing of the notes and measure.

Beats Per Measure - The top number indicates how many beats are in each measure. In the line above there are 4 beats per measure.

Beat Unit - The bottom number indicates the note value that represents one beat.

  • 2 - Each Half Note will receive one beat
  • 4 - Each Quarter Note will receive one beat
  • 8 - Each Eighth Note will receive one beat

In our example line at top, the Beat Unit is 4. This means that each Quarter Note will receive one beat. There are other possible Beat Units, other than what is listed above, but these are the most common.