Time brackets in practice

I introduced time brackets as a means of writing down rhythms found in music. The melody line starts with a time value of 1. This corresponds to one measure no matter which time signature (i.e. 4/4, 2/4, 3/4, etc). The time value can then be divided or multiplied by writing time brackets. Each time bracket has a multiplier value associated with it. The most common time brackets are t2, t3, and t4. The complete set of time brackets is shown below. The tn bracket can be assigned an arbitrary multiplier value by writing the value above the bracket.

What follows are three pages from Programmed Ear Training by Horacek and Lefkoff. Under each measure I have written the time bracket equivalent. Click the images for a high-resolution version. Here are a few important notes about time bracket notation:

  • time brackets look similar to pitch brackets, but they have a different meaning. They are usually written in red or marked by a “t” at the start of the melody line.
  • the melody line has a certain pitch value (i.e. C4) and time value (i.e. quarter note).
  • pitch brackets change the pitch value while time brackets change the time value.
  • notes assume their pitch and time values from the melody line.
  • rhythm in music is based on division and multiplication (i.e. one 1/4 is two 1/8 notes).
  • each time bracket has a multiplier value. For example, the t2 parenthesis bracket multiplies or divides by 2.
  • opening brackets divide while closing brackets multiply.
  • a note multiplier is a number placed above a note which multiplies the time value by that number. It does not change the melody line. Dotted notes are written with note multipliers.
  • rests are empty notes which assume their time value from the melody. I have yet to provide some examples of rests.


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