Time brackets

In pitch bracket notation, the melody line carries a pitch value just like a staff line. But the pitch value of a melody line can be changed by writing pitch brackets. The melody line also carries a time value which can be changed by writing time brackets. While pitch brackets add to or subtract from the pitch value, time brackets divide or multiply the time value. The time value is the relative duration of a note on the melody line, also known as the note value.

Now, in standard music notation, a whole note can be divided into two half notes or four quarter notes, etc. Figure 1 shows this division of the whole note.

Figure 1

The melody line starts with a time value of one (i.e. the whole note). The parenthesis time bracket called t2, divides or multiplies the time value by 2. The opening t2 bracket divides while the closing t2 bracket multiplies. Placing several t2 brackets in a row divides the time value by 2 repeatedly. Figure 2 shows five melody lines that correspond to the five rows of notes in Figure 1.

Figure 2

Pitch brackets come in different magnitudes. The same is true for time brackets. The most common time brackets are t2, t3, and t4. As you might expect, they divide (or multiply) by 2, 3, and 4. There are three more brackets with values three times larger than the smaller brackets: t6, t9, and t12. The final time bracket called tn, can be assigned an arbitrary division value by writing the value above the bracket. This is useful when time is divided by unusual values like 7 or 11. Figure 3 shows all of the time brackets.

Figure 3

By combining these time brackets many different musical rhythm can be written. Figure 4 shows a selection of rhythms written in time bracket notation. Combining pitch bracket and time bracket will require some care to avoid confusing. This will be the topic of a future post. Also, several important topics will be addressed: time signatures, measures, rests, tied notes, dotted notes, and variable notes.

Figure 4

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