97. From the standpoint of the eye, a measure is that portion of the

staff found between two bars, (in certain cases this space may be less

than a measure, as e.g., at the beginning and end of a movement); but

from the standpoint of the ear a single, isolated measure is not

possible, and the term must therefore be defined in the plural form.

Measures are similarly accented groups of evenly-spaced beats, each

/> group having at least one accented and one non-accented beat. The

strongest accent falls normally on the first beat in the measure.

Two essential characteristics are involved in the ordinary musical


(1) A group of even beats (or pulses), always felt, though not always

actually sounded, one or more of these beats being stronger than the


(2) Certain rhythmic figures ([Illustration], etc.) which form the

actual musical content of these groups.

The student will note the essential difference between rhythm

and measure. Rhythm is the regular recurrence of accent in a

series of beats (or pulses), while measure is the grouping of

these beats according to some specified system. In listening

to a piece of music, two hearers A and B may feel the rhythm

equally strongly, but A may subjectively group the beats

into--one, two one, two --etc., while B feels the

groups as--one, two, three, four one, two, three,

four --etc. Rhythm is thus seen to be a fundamental thing,

inherent in the music itself, while measure is to a certain

extent at least an arbitrary grouping which musicians have

adopted for practical purposes.

98. In syncopation the normal system of accenting is temporarily

suspended and the accented tone falls on the regularly unaccented part

of the measure. Syncopation may therefore be defined as the temporary

interruption of a normal series of accents, i.e., accenting a beat

that is usually not accented. Thus e.g., in Fig. 56, measure one has

the regular system of accents normally found in four-quarter-measure,

(strong accent on one, secondary accent on three); but measure three

has only one accent, and it falls on the second beat.

99. Measures are usually classified as simple and compound. A

simple measure is one which has but a single accent, i.e., the

measure cannot be divided into smaller constituent groups. There are two

main classes of simple measures, two-beat measure, and three-beat

measure. A compound measure is (as its name implies) one made up by

combining two or more simple measures, or by the elaboration of a single

measure (in slow tempo) into several constituent groups. The principal

compound measures are four-beat and six-beat, both being referred to as

compound-duple measures. Five-beat, seven-beat, nine-beat, and

twelve-beat measures are also classified as compound measures.

An English writer[23] classifies measures as duple, triple, or

quadruple, specifying that a simple measure is one in which

each beat is represented by a note whose value can be divided

into halves ([Illustration] etc.) and that a compound measure

is one in which each beat is represented by a dotted-note,

whose value can be divided into three parts, ([Illustration]).

There is thus seen to be considerable difference of opinion as

to the meaning of the words simple and compound when

applied in this connection, the principal question at issue

being whether four-beat measure is an individual variety, or

whether it is a variety compounded out of two-beat measures,

either by placing two of these in a group or by the

elaboration of a single measure into a larger number of beats,

as is often necessary in slow tempi. Perhaps the easiest way

out of the difficulty is to admit that both may be true--but

in different compositions. That is, it is frequently

impossible to tell whether a composition that is being

listened to is in two-beat, or in four-beat measure; and yet

it is sometimes possible so to discriminate. Since, however,

one cannot in the majority of cases distinguish between

two-beat and four-beat measures, it will probably be best to

leave the original classification intact and regard four-beat

measure as a compound variety.

[Footnote 23: Pearse--Rudiments of Musical Knowledge, p. 37.]

100. The commonest varieties of measure are:

1. Duple (sometimes called even measure, or even time), in

which there are two beats, the first one being accented.

Examples of duple measure are 2/4, 2/8, 2/2, two-quarter,[24]

two-eighth, and two-half measure, respectively.

[Footnote 24: For explanation of terminology, see p. 48, Sec.


2. Triple, (the old perfect measure), in which there are

three beats, the first one being accented, the second and

third unaccented. Examples are 3/8, 3/4, 3/2, three-eighth,

three-quarter, and three-half measure, respectively.

3. Quadruple, in which there are four beats, the first and

third being accented (primary accent on one, secondary

accent on three), the second and fourth unaccented. (See

note above, under Sec. 99.)

4. Sextuple, in which there are six beats, the first and

fourth being accented, the others not. In rapid tempi this is

always taken as compound duple measure, a dotted quarter note

having a beat. It will be noted that the two measures

[Illustration] are identical in effect with [Illustration].

101. Other varieties of measure sometimes found are 9/8 and 12/8, but

these are practically always taken as three-beat and four-beat measures

respectively, being equivalent to these if each group of three tones is

thought of as a triplet. [Illustration] is identical in effect with


102. Quintuple (five-beat) and septuple (seven-beat) measures are

occasionally met with, but these are rare and will always be sporadic.

The five-beat measure is taken as a combination of three and two, or of

two and three (sometimes a mixture of both in the same composition),

while the seven-beat measure is taken in groups of four and three, or

of three and four.

103. The sign [common-time symbol] is usually understood to mean

four-quarter measure, and the sign [cut-time symbol], two-half measure,

but usage varies somewhat, and the second sign is sometimes used to

indicate four-half measure. It may safely be said however that the sign

[cut-time symbol] always indicates that a half-note has a beat. [Double

cut-time symbol] may occasionally be found indicating four-half measure

but this is rare.

The student will note that the sign [common-time symbol] is

not a letter C, but an incomplete circle, differentiating

two-beat (imperfect) measure from three-beat (perfect)

measure. See Appendix A, p. 106. [Transcriber's Note: page

number missing in original.]