How to Meter a Song

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Musicians must know how to determine the meter of a song if they are going to perform it correctly. Without this basic information, the performer will not know where to place the natural accents and how to create motion that pushes the piece forward. The meter of a piece will help a performer know which beats should be accented and which beats should be weakened. This natural ebb and flow of strong and weak beats is the basis for a successful performance.

Things You'll Need

  • Music recording
  • Audio playback device

Find the Meter of a Song

  • Tap your foot along with the song to find the steady beat.

  • Tap more forcefully on the beats that feel strong, while tapping lightly on the beats that feel weak.

  • Take note of which beats are strong and which beats are weak.

  • Decide if your pattern of strong and weak beats fits comfortably with the song. If it feels awkward, try experimenting with differing patterns of weak and strong beats.

  • Once you have found a comfortable pattern, add together the first set of strong and weak beats. For instance, 1 strong beat for every 3 weak beats tells you that your meter is in 4.

Determine if the Meter is Simple, Compound or Asymmetrical

  • Identify if the meter is in 2, 3, or 4. If it is, then the song is in Simple meter.

  • Determine if the meter is in 6, 9, or 12. These songs are in Compound meter.

  • Assess the meter of the song. If the meter changes often, or is a mix of Simple and Compound meter, then the song is said to be Asymmetrical.

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