Takt time
measure
bar
小節

Measure means

  • the correct time ratio of the sounds of a piece of music with each other and
  • the division of music into equal periods of time, which are also called bars.

If the measure is kept as it should, it, together with the tempo, creates the musical movement and the rhythm of the piece.

Bars (measures) are understood as a uniform sequence of beats of equally long notes. In even time signatures, the number of beats can be divided by 2; the measure thus consists of two symmetrical halves. In odd beats this is not possible. The main types of measures are:

Even Odd Combined Mixed
2/2
2/4
2/8
3/2
3/4
3/8
4/21)
4/42)
6/43)
6/84)
9/85)
12/86)

If the piece begins with an incomplete measure, this is called pickup (or anacrusis). Often then the last measure of the piece is shortened by the length of the pickup.

The pickup is used to start a piece on an unstressed note (upbeat).

The time signature (bar time) is indicated directly after the key signature and accidentals of a piece. It consists of a fraction whose numerator gives the number of beats per measure, while the denominator sets the underlying note value (the length of a beat). The sum of all notes in one bar can not be greater than this fraction.

Until and including the Baroque period, the “large” 4/4 time was the normal case of a “proper” piece (tempo ordinario); it can also be written with the character 𝇋 ( alla semibreve, actually a semicircle), whereas 2/2 time was to be played double as fast and written with the character 𝇍 ( alla breve).

Time signatures are associated with notions of the distribution of accented and unstressed (or heavier and lighter) beats. This is called the meter of a measure. In contrast, rhythm governs the distribution of long and short notes within the measures.

The following meters are common:

TimeSuccession of beats
2/4stressed–unstressed
3/4stressed–unstressed–unstressed
4/4stressed–unstressed–moderately stressed–unstressed
6/8stressed–unstressed–unstressed–moderately stressed–unstressed–unstressed

However, depending on the genre, there are deviations. Thus, a 4/4 time in rock music is understood as a sequence of unstressed–stressed–unstressed–stressed.

In Ukulele practice, the meter is crucial for selecting a suitable strum pattern for a piece of music.

The metronome is a helpful tool for indicating the meter.


1) = 2 * 2/2
2) = 2 * 2/4
3) = 2 * 3/4
4) = dotted 2/4 time
5) = dotted 3/4 time
6) = doubled 6/8 time