[Dixielandjazz] Timing and tempo

Dan Augustine ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu
Mon Feb 9 10:43:39 PST 2004

Rebecca and DJML--
     Time-signatures and tempo, as much as one would like to hope were 
related, are in practice not related at all.
     Certain composers (back to Beethoven and earlier composers) 
decided for some improbable and arcane reasons to notate pieces in a 
fast tempo in (say) 4/1 meter (four whole-notes to the bar, with the 
tempo of whole-note = 160), or to notate slow pieces in 4/16 (4 
16th-notes to the bar, with the tempo of 16th-note = 40).
     What "whole-note = 160" means is that the beat (whole-note) 
occurs 160 times in a minute (this notation can also be notated in 
other ways, like MM=160, 'MM' being variously translated to 
"Metronome Marking" among others).  Or, the beat (16th note) = 40 
means that the beat (a 16th-note) should occur 40 times in a minute. 
March music is frequently at 120 beats a minute, which is 2 beats per 

>From: "Thompson" <rebecca.e.thompson at verizon.net>
>Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2004 10:23:43 -0600
>Does the time signature reflect the tempo? or is that an arbitrary thing?
>-----Original Message-----
>From:  Of Dan Augustine
>      The differences among 2/2, 2/4, and 'cut time' are notational.
>In all of these time-signatures (or 'meters'), there are two beats in
>the bar.  In 2/2, the half-note is a beat; in 2/4, the quarter-note
>is a beat. In 'cut time' (usually represented by a large capital
>letter 'C' with a vertical bar through it), the half-note also gets
>the beat.

**  Dan Augustine -- ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu -- Austin, Texas   **
**  "The less a science is advanced, the more its terminology tends  **
**   to rest on an uncritical assumption of mutual understanding."   **
**             -- Willard V. Quine in _Word and Object_              **

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