3/3 time?

Is it possible to set an Ardour tempo in 3/3 time?

There is no such meter in music.
It is all based on multiples of 4, so you can have 3/4, 7/8 or 21/16 but not 3/3, 8/7 or 16/11

The second number in a time signature (e.g. the ‘4’ in 3/4) indicates the length of the musical note - in this case a “quarter note” or crochet. In 3/4 time there are 3 crochets per bar. In 3/8 time there would be 3 “eighth notes” (i.e. three quavers) per bar. There’s no such thing in music as a “third note”. 3/3 time doesn’t exist.

I just created an account in order to post this. 3/3 time does indeed exist, but the processes involved in composing a piece of music in this time signature are very intensive.

To give an example:

Music is, to some extent, expressed exponentially. So if I start with 4 parts per beat, and 4 beats per measure, I’m looking at 16 parts per measure.

3 parts per beat and 3 beats per measure gives me 9 parts per measure. It’s less, parts, so it should be simpler, right?

But the exponential base for beats in a “four” time signature isn’t actually four. It’s two.

So if i start squaring those numbers I get
2 4 8 16

If I start squaring 3’s, however, I get
3 9 27 81

So in other words, when you’re composing a piece of music in 3/3 time, your movements will become very long very quickly.

It becomes difficult to wrap one’s mind around melodies like this.

It can be done but computers aren’t really set up to jive with this sort of time signature.

My suggestion is to screw around with it as much as possible. Go and get “take 5” on paper, and try to add a fifth measure to the loop, so that you end up with a piece of music in 5/5 instead of 5/4.

The idea that a time signature simply “doesn’t exist” is erroneous.
Time can be divided in any way you like. Just don’t try to divide by zero or you may create some sort of musical black hole!

Take the song “Happy Birthday” for example.

It is a waltz, Written in 3/4 meter.

  1. Happy Birthday To you,

  2. Happy Birthday To You,

  3. Happy Birthday Dear Na-Ame,

  4. Happy Birthday To You!

Sing the song to yourself out loud.

Now sing the song to yourself again, but this time, after you finish singing 3, go directy to 1. Skip 4 altogether.

That is 3/3 meter.

@mcgruff: same was as setting any other meter. Right click in the meter track -> New Meter -> set Beats Per Bar to 3.0 and Note Value to Third. Done.

Its not correct to say that computers aren’t really set up to deal with kind of time signature. Ardour is setup to deal with any time signature, including time signatures with non-integer note values and beats per bar. Its a long time joke that in Ardour you can create a piece that is “in Pi!” To a piece of software, its all just numbers. To a musician, it might be more difficult.

I disagree with Vodage - the 4 in a 6 4 time signature doesn’t represent a unique duration, if it did there would be no need for a bpm value. ‘4’ is just a representation of part of a convention. The convention does not include ‘3’ or ‘5’ or ‘pi’ and is therefore meaningless. There’s no reason to assign a value to it of one and a half quarter beats, it could just as easily represent a non-integer such as pi.

Similarly there is no note type associated to minus three.

Good thread though :slight_smile:

Like Paul said, “it’s all just numbers”, and since, say, triplets and quintuplets are sort of an abomination in standard notation I guess you could concoct some alternative meter that would make the notation of those easier. And I’m pretty sure you couldn’t find a musician that would be able to read it.
No matter what elaborate meter you’d invent you could always boil it down to the standard notation so except from really slow drone music or totally chaotic avantgarde I can’t really see the point.

But if there are some documentation on the net about it I’d really like to read it.

Thanks everyone for your help.

It was indeed a waltz time signature, 3/4, I was looking for - my mistake.

I couldn’t find the UI command to change time signature because I always have the meter track switched off… doh! Got it now.

Posted by chazza I disagree with Vodage - the 4 in a 6 4 time signature doesn't represent a unique duration, if it did there would be no need for a bpm value. '4' is just a representation of part of a convention.

That depends on whether you’re talking about musical durations or durations of time. The ‘4’ indicates “quarter notes”. In 6:4 time, each measure (or bar) would last for exactly six “quarter notes” - or 6 crochets. Of course, that doesn’t mean that every bar has to be composed using 6 crochets. But what it does mean is that the duration of every bar is exactly the same duration as 6 crochets. In 6:8 time, each measure has the same duration as 6 quavers etc. The actual (time) duration of a crochet or quaver depends on the tempo. The faster the tempo, the shorter each measure becomes and correspondingly, the shorter is each crochet and correspondingly, the higher is the bpm

[Edit…] Vodage - “Happy Birthday” is actually in 6:4 meter. The shortest note is a quaver and the longest note is a minim but the accent falls on every sixth crochet. Therefore the time signature is 6:4.

That depends on whether you're talking about musical durations or durations of time. The '4' indicates "quarter notes". In 6:4 time, each measure (or bar) would last for exactly six "quarter notes" - or 6 crochets. Of course, that doesn't mean that every bar has to be composed using 6 crochets. But what it does mean is that the duration of every bar is exactly the same duration as 6 crochets. In 6:8 time, each measure has the same duration as 6 quavers etc. The actual (time) duration of a crochet or quaver depends on the tempo. The faster the tempo, the shorter each measure becomes and correspondingly, the shorter is each crochet and correspondingly, the higher is the bpm

While from a technical standpoint when speaking strictly of duration, you are correct, 6/4 and 6/8 are both compound time signatures so the actual meaning is better represented as… 2 dotted half notes, for 6/4 and 2 dotted quarter notes for 6/8. The end result when speaking of duration is obviously identical, but when speaking of notation, beaming, etc. and also playing, is very different.

  Seablade

I still think there’s some confusion here: take Waltz time, 3:4, three is a number but 4 is not a number, it’s a conventional symbol for crotchet. If we happened to use European note names - minim (M), crotchet©, quaver(Q), semiquaver(S) and so on, 3:4 would become 3:C, 6:8 would become 6:Q and we wouldn’t be discussing this.

Similarly the note names we use (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) have nothing to do with the alphabet, again they are conventional symbols. We could just as easily use cat, dog, hamster. A, B, C etc give a useful idea of the relationship between frequencies but so would P, Q, R, S, T, U, V.

Still, it’s brilliant that all this came about because mcgruff wrote 3/3 instead of 3/4. Lead on, mcgruff

NB, I know a bit about music but I’m still an absolute beginner when it comes to Ardour.

@chazza: it is merely convention that says that the denominator is a standard note value (and typically just one of a small range). there are musical traditions around the world that have rhythmic constructions that are not well represented by a description of the form “there are 3 beats per bar, and a beat is a crotchet/quarter-note”.

now, in deference to the facts that (1) these are somewhat obscure traditions among the users of a DAW and more importantly (2) that even within these musical traditions, most rhythmic constructions end up using patterns that can be reasonably represented with standard integer-fractions of a whole note, Ardour does limit the denominator to the normal western values. internally, however, it uses floating point values for both the numerator and denominator, and one could imagine a GUI that allowed you to specify any value for the denominator.

“this one has Pi beats per bar, and 1 beat is 1/sqrt(2) of a whole note” :))

Steve Smith formerly of Journey who now plays drums in his jazz fusion band Vital Information spent some time in India learning all about eastern music, and when he got back, the first thing he did was write a song in 7 and a half. Sure, 7.5 and 3/3 don’t really exist in western music, but they can be played. In the west we would take that 7.5 and turn it into 15/8 or something, but then the song loses its feel since the measures are twice as long. They came to my home town and played this song. Steve even taught us how to count it. In this video he taught the crowd how to count it, but they edited it out, but you can hear Steve speaking as he begins the song, and that was the tail end of his teaching how to count it:

As my prog-rock drummer friend, Tim says, “Any time signature can exist, it just depends how weird you wanna get.”

Paul - “this one has Pi beats per bar, and 1 beat is 1/sqrt(2) of a whole note” :))

Would love to hear that one :slight_smile: I can imagine it existing, but not how it might sound, not the way I can hear a melody if I sight read it from a score. Anyway I think if we sail much farther we might fall off the edge of the world.

An afterthought, re Ricardus and ‘7 and a half : 4’, there’e a whole tradition of dance music from the Balkans written in 7, 9, 11, 13, and 17 beats to the bar which sounds completely natural - as an example the 11 beat breaks down into 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2 semiquavers, bpm dependent on amount of alcohol consumed but always pretty fast.

@chazza: the thing with half-beats-per-bar is that its often combined with a melody line that is in done in the 2x multiple. so you have a percussion line in 7.5 beats per bar and a melodic line with 15 beats per bar. this creates an interesting “phase shift” for the 2nd 7.5 beats as the percussion shifts by 1/2 beat relative to the melody. my guess is that there may be variants that reverse the percussive/melodic roles too. i’ve heard this done with indian music using 9.5 beats per bar, and its a very different effect than just using the 2x multiple.

@Ricardus

I don’t know Steve Smith at all, nor do I know his music and whereabouts, but I did compose a rock song in 7.5 (15/8) which I find really cool (never had time to finish it, but I will one day :). It really sounds at first like you can go along with the beat but once in a while, a beat is missing so you have to double up your “going along” with the beat not to lose it. A few friends got disturbed by that :smiley: I just want to say though that the 7.5 time sig did not come to me out of intense thinking but because I made a mistake when improvising some guitar sequence. I ended up using the mistake on purpose as an intrinsic part of the song :slight_smile:

@chazza: (1) an ISO isn’t going to help anyone test a3-alpha in a useful way, i think (2) i don’t the points above were about X:7.5, but about X.5:Y. if you want to hear something with 9.5 beats per cycle, check out L. Shankar’s Raga Aberi. Not my favorite piece of his, and it doesn’t demonstrate the shifting between the percussive and melodic lines as clearly as some pieces I’ve heard him perform live, but it does have the basic structure where the extra half-beat is key, and its not just “half of 19 beats per cycle”.