Music Basics
The Science
The Stave & Clefs
The Notes
The Timing
The Bars


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The Bars

The stave is divided into 'bars'. Usually the first note in a bar is accented (played slightly louder) to help emphasize the rhythm of the piece of music. Each bar may have a different number of individual notes in it but they must all add up to the same 'time value', or number of beats, in each bar. A note's length in beats is shown in the chart below.

Two numbers (shown as a fraction) called the time signature, just to the right of the clef, tell us what timing to use when we play the music. The top number tells us how many beats are in each bar and the lower number tells us the lengths of each beat. 3 over 4 would mean three beats of crotchet length (because a crotchet is a quarter of a semibreve). 2 over 2 would be two beats of minim length (because a minim is half a semibreve).

Notes of different beat lengths can be used in each bar (music would be boring otherwise!) but they must all add up to the correct total. Look at the common examples below, see how the individual note 'time values' add up correctly in each of the bars.

Beats are counted in each bar as you play the music. For example in 3/4 time 1 - 2 - 3, 1 - 2 - 3, and so on. Depending on the actual tune, one crotchet would be played for each of the beats; two quavers would be played for each of the beats; a minim would be played across two of the beats.

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