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Simple and Compound Time
Simple time is that which has one note fur a beat unit, as 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4, in which the quarter
note is the beat or unit, also 3/8 and 4/8, in which the eighth note is the beat note. Compound time
is the kind of time which has a triplet, or something' that will equal it, on each beat, and is used for
the purpose of avoiding the writing of triplets. In all compound times the lower figure indicates the
notes of which the triplets are formed, while the upper figure, when divided by three (the number of
notes forming" a triplet), will give the number of beats or pulses to the measure. The compound times
are indicated by the following signatures:- 6/8, 6/4, 9/8 and 12/8. The following Examples show
how the same passage may be written in either simple or compound time, the effect being exact-
ly the same in both cases. In the 6/8 time, the beat, which in itself is the same as in 2/4 time,
has to be represented by a dotted quarter, since it must equal the three eighth notes of the
Thus it happens that the half note in 2/4 time equals the dotted half note in 6/8 time. Since
the beat note is the same in the three kinds of compound time here shown (the dotted quarter note),
9/8 time equals 3/4 time and 12/8 equals Common time.
In the last measure of the 12/8 time, the dots following the eighth note and the eighth rest re -
present the value of a sixteenth note and rest.
When the movement is very slow, as in the "Melody" below, it is allowable to count six eighth notes
to a measure, giving- a strong accent, however, to the first and fourth beats, since these beats
begin the two groups of triplets which really comprise the measure.