cut time

Symbols representing cut time.
Cut time signatures. Image © Brandy Kraemer

Definition:

Cut time (or “cut common time”) is a 4/4 time signature that’s been rhythmically “cut” to manipulate rhythm and/or tempo. Cut time can be written as 2/2, or as a c-shaped symbol with a vertical slash (see image).

Cut time is used for the following rhythmic effects:

  • To Mimic a March: The rhythm of 2/2 time is similar to that of 2/4 - also known as “march” time - because both have the downbeat on every other beat.
  • To Speed Up Tempo: When switching from common time, cut time means you’ll be playing twice as fast. In this manner, cut time can be referred to as “half time,” or “playing in 2.”

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Also Known As:

  • half time; in 2
  • alla breve (It)
  • à deux temps rapide; à la blanche (Fr)
  • Allabreve; Takt in Halben Noten (Ger)

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More Musical Terms:

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Your Citation
Kraemer, Brandy. "cut time." ThoughtCo, Sep. 1, 2016, thoughtco.com/cut-time-definition-2701547. Kraemer, Brandy. (2016, September 1). cut time. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/cut-time-definition-2701547 Kraemer, Brandy. "cut time." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/cut-time-definition-2701547 (accessed November 23, 2017).