Compound Meter

Queen File Photos from Northern California
Freddie Mercury of Queen, whose hit We Are the Champions is a famous example of 6/8 time, a compound duple. WireImage / Getty Images

The grouping of strong and weak beats is called meter. You can find the meter signature (also called time signature) at the beginning of every music piece; it is the 2 numbers written after the clef. The number on top tells you the number of beats in a measure; the number at the bottom tells you what note gets the beat.

In compound meter, the beats can be divided into three notes. 6/4, 6/8, 9/8, 12/8 and 12/16 are examples of compound meter.

Note that time signatures with 6 as the top number are known as compound duple. Time signatures with 9 as the top number are known as compound triple. Time signatures with 12 as the top number are known as compound quadruple.

Examples of Compound Meter

6/8 - This means there are 6 eighth notes in a measure. The beats are grouped into 2 groups of 3 eighth notes, thus making it a compound duple. Other examples of compound duple are 6/2, 6/4 and 6/16.

9/8 -This means there are 9 eighth notes in a measure. The beats are grouped into 3 groups of 3 eighth notes, thus making it a compound triple. Other examples of compound triple are 9/2, 9/4 and 9/16.

12/8 - This means there are 12 eighth notes in a measure. The beats are grouped into 4 groups of 3 eighth notes, thus making it a compound quadruple. Other examples of compound quadruple are 12/2, 12/4 and 12/16.