Why is 4/4 time written with a c-shaped symbol?

Origin of the c-symbol for 4/4 common time.
Common time is signified by 4/4 or its c-shaped semicircle. The symbol for "cut common time" resembles a cent sign. Image © Brandy Kraemer

Question: Why is 4/4 time written with a c-shaped symbol?

Answer: You’ve probably seen a curious C symbol at the beginning of a your sheet music after the clef and key signature - this is simply another way of writing “common time,” a.k.a. the 4/4 time signature. But where did this symbol come from?

The c-shaped time signature does not actually stand for common time as some may believe:




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