Musician's Guide Chapter 2 Terms

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27 terms · Beat, Meter, and Rhythm: Simple Meters

anacrusis

Occurs when a melody starts just before the first downbeat in a meter; also called an upbeat, or pick-up.

bar line

A vertical line that indicates the end of a measure.

beat

The primary pulse in musical meter.

compound meter

Any meter in which the beat divides into threes and subdivides into sixes. The top number of the meter signature will be 6, 9, or 12 (e.g., 9/4 or 6/8).

cut time

2/2 time signature

dot

Rhythmic notation that adds to a note half again its own value (e.g., a dotted half equals a half note plus a quarter note).

downbeat

Beat 1 of a metrical pattern.

eighth note

A stemmed black note head with one flag. In duple beat divisions, two of these notes divide a quarter-note beat; in triple beat divisions, three of these notes divide a dotted-quarter-note beat.

half note

A stemmed white note head; its duration is equivalent to two quarter notes.

measure

A unit of grouped beats; generally, it begins and ends with notated bar lines.

meter

The grouping and divisions of beats in regular, recurring patterns.

duple meter

Meter in which beats group into units of two (e.g., 2/4, 2/2, or 6/8).

quadruple meter

Meter in which beats group into units of four (e.g., 4/4 or 12/8 ).

triple meter

Meter in which beats group into units of three (e.g., 3/2 or 9/8).

meter signature

Located at the beginning of the first line of a musical score, after the clef and key signature, it indicates the beat unit and grouping of beats in the piece or movement; also called a time signature.

quarter note

A stemmed black note head, equivalent in duration to two eighth notes.

rest

A duration of silence.

rhythm

The patterns made by the durations of pitch and silence (notes and rests) in a piece.

simple meter

Meter in which the beat divides into twos and subdivides into fours. The top number of the meter signature will be 2, 3, or 4 (e.g., 4/8 or 3/2).

sixteenth note

A stemmed black note head with two flags. In duple beat divisions, two of these notes divide an eighth-note beat; in triple beat divisions, three of these divide a dotted-eighth-note beat.

slur

An arc that connects two or more different pitches. They affect articulation but not duration.

syncopation

Off-beat rhythmic accents created by dots, ties, rests, dynamic markings, or accent marks.

tempo

How fast or slow music is played. Examples include adagio (slow), andante (medium speed), and allegro (fast).

tie

A small arc connecting the note heads of two (or more) identical pitches, adding the durations of the notes together.

time signature

Another term for meter signature.

upbeat

Occurs when a melody starts just before the first strong beat in a meter; named for the upward lift of the conductor's hand. Another word for anacrusis.

whole note

A stemless white note head; equal in duration to two half notes.

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