During the past two weeks for in-depth, I have begun working on time signatures with my mentor. For those of you who don’t know, a time signature is two numbers placed at the beginning of a song, which indicate how many beats are placed in each bar. For example, in a 4/4 time signature, there are 4 beats per bar, and each quarter note is worth 1 beat. In 3/2 time, each half note is worth one beat, and there are 3 beats in a bar. It is important to choose the right one to fit your melody. Generally, 4/4 is the most common time signature since it is versatile and easy to read. ¾ is also very common, but, only works for certain melodies. A time signature such as 2/4 would only be common in songs such as marching songs. Time signatures such as 12/8 are hard to read, and therefore aren’t used all that often. However, they are still used in some odd songs that require the beats to be sub-divided be three (each single beat can be divided into 3 parts, rather than the stander 2 or 4). Upon asking whether it would be better to try to work in a 12/8, 3/4 or 4/4 time, my mentor said that 4/4 will generally be the best since it is versatile and easy to use. When asking why this would be ideal, he explained that the large majority of songs use this time signature since it allows you to play in either a swung or straight-eight rhythm without any difficulties, and because we listen to it so much, our braings will usually think up melody ideas in a 4/4 time signature anyways.
However, I must still learn how to use the other ones. To do this, we have taken songs that use some of the more complex time signatures, such as 12/8, and have begun to break them down into smaller pieces. For example, in a 12/8 song, you need to look at each note as being 3 beats. There are then 4 of these 3 beat notes, so instead of a standard quarter note being viewed as one beat, you must count one quarter note plus an eighth note. This can get complicated, but after working through it for a while, it becomes relatively easy.
We also began to work on a new technique for writing melodies. This involves taking the chord progressions from a previous song, and writing a new melody over top of it. Upon asking what the benefits of this were, my mentor answered that this is very helpful since the chord progressions will already be well laid out, and the rhythm section won’t be as hard to create. Instead, you only need to be coming up with a melody, rather than an entire song. Although I may tend to value originality in music, it seems that my mentor places some of his values in improving what has already been done. The way he sees it, there is no point in re-inventing the wheel. He explained that many artists take old songs and build off of them, since it allows them to focus more on aspects of the song such as the melody, and not have to spend too much time working on the rest of the song. Although I still wish to make original compositions, this does make sense to me.