Simple Meter

3/4 time signature
By Dkirk335 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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 simple meter, the beats can be divided into even divisions of two. 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures are all examples of simple meter, as are any time signatures with 2, 3 and 4 as the top number (ex.

2/2, 2/8, 3/2, 3/8, 4/2 and 4/8).

2/4

Also known as simple duple; the number 2 on top equals two beats and the number 4 at the bottom represents a quarter note. This means there are two quarter note beats in a measure. What makes 2/4 a simple meter is that the beats (2 quarter notes) can each be divided into two eighth notes (1 quarter note = 2 eighth notes).

3/4

Also known as simple triple; the number 3 on top equals three beats and the number 4 at the bottom represents a quarter note. This means there are three quarter note beats in a measure. So in 3/4 meter, the beats (3 quarter notes) can each be divided into two eighth notes.

4/4

Also known as simple quadruple; the number 4 on top equals four beats and the number 4 at the bottom represents a quarter note. This means there are four quarter note beats in a measure. Therefor, in 4/4 meter the beats (4 quarter notes) can each be divided into two eighth notes.

The table below will help you further understand simple meter:

Simple Meter
MeterHow Many BeatsNote That Receives the BeatDivision of Beats
2/22 beatshalf noteseach half note can be divided into 2 quarter notes (= 4 quarter notes)
2/42 beatsquarter noteseach quarter note can be divided into 2 eighth notes (= 4 eighth notes)
2/82 beatseighth noteseach eighth note can be divided into 2 sixteenth notes (= 4 sixteenth notes)
3/23 beatshalf noteseach half note can be divided into 2 quarter notes (= 6 quarter notes)
3/43 beatsquarter noteseach quarter note can be divided into 2 eighth notes (= 6 eighth notes)
3/83 beatseighth noteseach eighth note can be divided into 2 sixteenth notes (= 6 sixteenth notes)
4/24 beatshalf noteseach half note can be divided into 2 quarter notes (= 8 quarter notes)
4/44 beatsquarter noteseach quarter note can be divided into 2 eighth notes (= 8 eighth notes)
4/84 beatseighth noteseach eighth note can be divided into 2 sixteenth notes (= 8 sixteenth notes)