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# Time Signature in Staff Notation.

Question by Rama
(Pune, India)

When writing notation of the classical guitar after the treble clef time signature symbol is written.

For example: 3/4, 4/4, 5/8, 6/8

According to my knowledge the 1st number stands for the beats in each bar.

What does the second number stand for?

As you mentioned, the first (upper) number in a time signature is the number of beats in a bar.

The second (lower) number refers to the note value. This is another way of saying how "long" each theoretical note lasts before the next. Basically, how quickly the notes are played.

I say "upper" and "lower" because the time signature will be written with one number over the other - number of beats over note value.

Note values are broken down in the basic timing lesson on how to practice scales.

1 = whole note (rare!)
2 = half notes
4 = quarter notes
8 = eighth notes
16 = sixteenth notes

So 4/4 would mean 4 quarter notes per bar:

1 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4

3/4 would mean 3 quarter notes per bar:

1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 3

5/8 = 5 eighth notes per bar:

1 2 3 4 5 | 1 2 3 4 5

6/8 = 6 eighth notes per bar:

1 2 3 4 5 6 | 1 2 3 4 5 6