About Time Signatures

Everything a beginner needs to know about time signatures is here!

View the full lesson at About Time Signatures | JustinGuitar

I’m not sure if I was following Justin correctly. He said set the metronome to 130 bpm while playing a 6:8 rhythm. I tried to set Justin’s metronome app to 130 bpm and the time signature as 6/8 which shows up as a 2:3 rhythm (2 beats, 3 divisions) and the metronome rhythm seemed very (excessively?) fast. Perhaps I misunderstood Justin or perhaps I don’t know how to set the metronome correctly.

I think the timer is only counting the 1st and 4th click as a beat, so for 130 bpm there are 65 1st beats in a minute and 65 4th beats in a minute and there are also 65 of the 2nd and 3rd and 5th and 6th beats in a minute for a total of 390 bpm. I verified that there are about 6 beats per second on this setting. Thats getting into shredder territory and not exactly beginner level. Am I missing something. When I say beats in this post, I mean metronome clicks. Thanks.

I finally decided that the correct tempo for 6:8 should be 1/3 the suggested tempo or about 43 1/3. I tried tapping in the tempo with my finger by just tapping the 1st and 4th beats and “air tapping” the off beats and I arrived at 44 bpm. (Pretty close to calculated value). Perhaps there is a difference between what Justin is saying in the video lesson and the why the app is interpreting the tempo for 6/8 rhythm.

I did want to say that other than figuring out this quirk, I love Justin’s metronome app. I have a Korg metronome, but I’ve never cared for the harsh (in my opinion) tones of the beeps/clicks. I also like the visual feedback of the rhythm and the accent beats available with more complicated time signatures (like 6:8). For the price (US $1.99 in my case), it can’t be beat (pun unintended).

I rewatched this video again. It is obvious that Justin was using the Metronome app when he assigned a tempo of 130 bpm. I finally realized that the key to understanding this was the 6 beats per measure and that the metronome was playing straight 6 beats to the measure with no accents on the first and fourth beats. The only way to set that up on the metronome app is to ignore the time signature and set up the rhythm with 6 beats and no divisions (value of 1). That works at the 130 bpm setting but doesn’t work as will as using the 6/8 time signature (2:3 setup) with 44 bpm, since that’s also gives you the 2 accent beats.

Had the same issue with the metronome app the day before yesterday, didn’t solve the problem yet, no time for fumbling around. I then used the click version of Hallelujah in the song app. It provides a 6/8 signature with accentuated beats, wereby the speed is only up to 114 bpm for this song, not 130bpm.

Thanks for the response. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced the same issue with the metronome app and 6:8 time or just got frustrated and moved on.

I did find a workaround with setting the tempo at 1/3 the desired speed and the beats are at the right speed.

Response to another post maybe worth a read

1 Like

@SteveL_G99 and @Helen0609

I wrote a reply to a question on the 6/8 tempo and a metronome setting for Everybody Hurts here.

Using easy numbers, if a tempo is given as 120bpm that is usually taken to mean that this is the tempo for quarter beats, that there are 120 quarter beats per minute.

6/8 time signature music is based on eighths, not quarters.

120bpm gives the equivalent of 240 eighths per minute.
That 240 figure can be divided by 3 to give a metronome setting for 6/8 of 80bpm.

BUT, it is vital to know that the beats in this 80bpm are not quarters or eighths.
They are dotted quarters - equivalent to three eighths. This gives the two strong pulses which you find on the 1 and the 4 of 6/8 time signature music.
Another way to arrive at the same is to find two-thirds of the 120bpm.

I hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:

| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Moderator, Guide & Approved Teacher

1 Like

@socio posted while I was typing … Thanks James :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thanks to you and James for the response. It sounds like my workaround is not a workaround but is the reality for this time signature. When Justin said set your metronome to 130 he was speaking in general for the tempo for 6 eighth notes to each measure but leaving the details of setting up the metronome to us.

1 Like

@Richard_close2u @Socio Thanks Richard and James, this makes things a lot clearer. I have to admit, that I didn’t spend time to think about it yet, because life is so busy at the moment, practice time is a little short. One gets a little lazy with those wonderful apps :joy:. I just saw the option for the 6/8 count, so I thought, the 6/8 signature would be adapted automatically to the given speed of the song. So, it seems to be true, that math and music theory relate. Should have paid more attention to things like that in school. Musical education for my generation in school was very theoretical and boooooring…

Hi Andrea I expect a lot of people would think the same thing. I’m surprised that this question only seems to have cropped up recently. @Richard_close2u gave a very clear and concise answer and maybe merits a guidance note added to the learn more section for entering 6:8 signatures onto the Justin Time Trainer.

1 Like

RE: the metronome / time trainer app

Notice that in the video for this lesson, Justin says do not do it in the same way that Nitsuj did it (see 10:14 in this Nitsuj video.
You do not want to hear the different sounding beep every fourth beat as that is for 4/4 time.
I do not have the time trainer app and do not know if the different sound can be turned on / off / adjusted.
If not, then use a metronome sound with just a single sound or one that you can set to sound differently on 1 and 4 of a 6/8 time signature.


@Richard_close2u I have three questions for this section:

  1. When we count 4/4, we put emphasis on beat one as “one! two three four, one! two three four, …”

    1 2 3 4

    So for a 3/4 time signature, if we don’t add the “ands”, do we count the beats by putting emphasis on all the beats as “one! two! three!, one! two! three!, …”?

    > > >
    1 2 3
  2. Here when Justin talks about the “walts” is he referring to 3/4? He only seems to accentuate beat 1 as:

    1 2 3
  3. I tried setting 6/8 @ 130BPM on the Timerainer App. Here’s a video demo of me using the app. Is this correct, it seems pretty fast to strum along to.

Thank you!