Just like the 2/4 time signature, the 3/4 time signature can also be found at the very beginning of your music right after the clef sign. This also happens to be true with all time signatures in music.
- How many beats (or counts) are in each measure = the top number.
- What type of note will receive 1 beat = the bottom number.
Go ahead and take a look at how this applies to 3/4 time…
The 3/4 Time Signature
The top and bottom numbers in 3/4 time tell us how many beats will occur in each measure and what type of note will receive 1 count.
In this case, the top number indicates there will be 3 beats in a measure while the bottom number says a quarter note will receive 1 count.
Top Number = 3 beats in each measure.
Bottom Number = quarter note will receive 1 count.
Can the Bottom Number Change?
Absolutely, it can! This is something to watch out for. Anytime you see the number “4” on the bottom of a key signature, it will always mean a quarter note receives 1 count.
However, this bottom number can change representing a different kind of note equaling 1 count. This is not something to worry about right now, but be aware in general how the bottom number functions.
The Bottom Number
As mentioned above, the bottom number is a “4” representing a quarter note equaling 1 count. This is true for all key signatures with the number “4” on the bottom.
The Top Number
The top number is always the easiest to understand because it is so straight forward. This number just tells us how many beats will be in each measure.
Since the top number is “3”, we will have 3 beats in each measure. This means the notes and rests throughout the music will be organized into groups of three’s for easier reading and playing.
3/4 Time Signature Examples
Look at a few of these examples using the 3/4 time signature. Count and clap a few of these exercises to put them into practice.
Understanding key signatures may look difficult, but as you can see, there really isn’t that much to it. As long as you know what the top and bottom numbers mean and how they function, you will have no trouble solving any key signature.
Keep up the excellent work! You are one step closer to successful music reading!