Thinking Music Theory 101: Time Signatures and ties


Thinking Music Theory 101: Time Signatures and ties

What happens if you’re late work?

Your douche boss probably writes you up and if you keep it up you’ll probably get canned.

I would fire you if you keep arriving late to work, it makes sense.

If you keep arriving late, production slows down for my pink widgets and it could cost the company some revenue. The most important aspect in our entire lives is TIME!

Time with your family, friends, and loved ones.

Time in music is at the top of the heap. If you’re not on time then it’s gonna throw everything and everyone off.

note: If this is your first time reading this lesson, then I would suggest to start with the very first lesson. Things could get confusing, you need to start here first to understand this lesson.

Download the pdf worksheet right here.

Time Signatures

The time or meter of any musical piece is indicated at the beginning of a piece of sheet music. It’s Indicated by a symbol called the Time Signature.

Looking below at the time signature, the top number indicates how many beats are in each measure. The bottom number indicates the note value that is given one beat. In the case below, there are four beats in each measure and the four below would indicate a quarter note is given one beat.

4/4 time signature

Think of it like fractions, 1/4 = one quarter, but 4/4= four quarters or four quarter notes in each measure. If it were 1/4, then that would indicate one quarter note in each measure. Typically 4/4 time signature is the most common form of time in music.

Since 4/4 time signature is so common in many forms of music such as: pop, rock, blues, r&b and jazz, it is often referred to as common time.

Below are the most common time signatures. common time signatures

Below is a common time signature, which just indicates a 4/4 time. It’s important to know both symbols. This time signature looks just like a “C.”

common time

Another symbol is cut time. Cut time is basically 4/4 time cut in half indicated by a “C “with a vertical line cutting right through it.

cut time

Here are some exercises you can practice with by adding bar lines to separate measures. Be careful with the time signatures.

bar line exercises


Ties are two notes of the same pitch that are to connected to extend there time. It’s as if both notes unite in holy matrimony and become one.

Ties can be shown across a bar line, or even across in the middle of a measure. Look below for an example.


Almost forgot about the Slur. No, not slurpees…

Slurs may look like a Tie but they’re not. The purpose of a slur is to go from one note to the next note smoothly, without hesitation. Like a banana smoothie. I guess they should’ve called it a smoothie not a slur.


Download the pdf worksheet right here.

That’ll be it for now, but remember the importance of Time. Don’t forget to leave any suggestions, questions or comments below. Also sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already.


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