Determining the Time or Beat
We’ve looked at the musical staff and the various clefs on the previous page so now let’s look at the next symbols of notation used in the first measure of a composition. Once you understand these, you’ll know which instrument, the count per measure in which the song is written, and how to interpret the notes and rests to follow.
The time signature, also called a meter signature, is placed after the clef and indicates the number of beats per measure by the top numeral while the bottom numeral indicates to which notes to apply that value. The example shown shows a meter of 4 beats per measure with the quarter note taking a full beat. In this case, 4 beats will total the length of time between bars, one measure. The example above shows the first full measure on the staff.