Bar or measure
- Music is normally divided into equal time-lengths called bars (or,
in some countries, measures - see
alternative names), each
consisting of the same number of beats.
- The time signature gives the number of
beats in a bar and the type of beats, so
it tells you how long each bar is (in terms of the number
and type of notes and/or rests in a single
part in that bar).
- Bars dividers, called bar-lines, are indicated in a score by a
vertical line from the top to the bottom of the
stave. A double bar-line is written at
the end of a piece:
The double bar-line is sometimes written with the second line
thicker than the first; this is normally used at the very end of
a piece, and two equal lines are used at the end of sections.
- Bars give an intuitive division of a piece of music into manageable
chunks; the strongest accents come on the beat
immediately following a bar line, so it is relatively easy to count bars,
and it should be easy to count the beats within
- The number of bars in a section of music is often regular; four bars
often make a short phrase, eight bars and sixteen bars are often the
section sizes next largest. These numbers feel "natural"; a section of
17 or 19 bars often feels "wrong". This is because of a hierarchical
structure of beats strengths that we naturally feel; there is a strong
accent on the beat at the beginning of every fourth bar, an even stronger
one at the beginning of every eighth bar, and so on.
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