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Music Theory for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt

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7. Meter

Note lengths, as you studied in Chapter 4, show and describe how musical time is divided up into regular chunks called beats. Having considered note lengths in Chapter 4, it is now time to consider the various rhythmic frameworks in which these note lengths tend to be used. These are called meters.

Meter concerns the way beats are combined into larger units or groups that make sense to the ear. Each such unit is called a metric cycle, or a measure. They are also referred to as bars—a term which arose from the practice of drawing a vertical line on the score after the completion of each metric cycle (see Figure 7.1).

Figure 7.1. Use of bar lines in score-edit format.

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