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Cut time

Posted by Baldwin 
Cut time
February 17, 2006 08:02AM
I just can't see 'the point' of cut time. Why would a composer choose 2/2 instead of 2/4 - what is the difference - is it just a case of tempo? As a British musician (violinist) I'm not used to the terms of half notes and quarter notes, but perhaps someone could explain a bit about the purpose and couting of cut time?
Thanks in advance...
Re: Cut time
February 21, 2006 02:15PM
There's some discussion of that here:

There are reasons of convention (marches are often in cut time), historical reasons (in the evolution of time signatures), sometimes tempo reasons, possibly other practical reasons (e.g., a piece of music in duple meter with a lot of small note values might be more readible in 2/2 or 2/1 than in 2/4).

Music notation is, in the end, a practical thing -- the composer wants to communicate the music to you -- so different composers may choose a time signature for different reasons.

2/2 (as you probably know) means there are 2 beats in a measure, and each beat is one minim (half-note). When you're counting you should feel those 2 beats.

Re: Cut time
February 25, 2006 06:49AM
do you have an example ofa song with 22 to help me out//?

Re: Cut time
September 10, 2006 08:31AM
4/4 common time: widely used in classical music; the norm in rock, jazz, country, and bluegrass, and most modern pop or dance music

2/2 alla breve, cut time: used for marches and fast orchestral music. Frequently occurs in musical theater. Sometimes called "in 2".
Re: Cut time
September 09, 2007 06:09AM
I'm a little confused here. Why would a British musician not know what half notes or quarter notes are? Do British musicians use different terminology?
Re: Cut time
July 24, 2008 11:49AM
What is the meaning of the cut time placed as the time signature being immediately followed with a mirror image of the cut time notation???
Re: Cut time
July 26, 2008 11:44AM
Where did you see this Barbara?

There are Puzzle Canons that are two parts and only one of the two parts is written out - it's up to you to figure out how that part should play against itself - that's the puzzle.

Bach did some that are reprinted often where the main line is to be played against itself in reverse (called a Cancrizans, Retrograde, or "Crab" canon). In those, you'll see upside down and backwards clefs and keys at the end.

This might be another way of writing that.

Another common "double" element is double treble clefs - this has now largely been replaced by a treble clef with an 8 under it - it's for tenor vocal parts so the double clef just meant "an octave lower than written".

I've not seen two cut-time symbols as you mention though.

Re: Cut time
March 09, 2009 10:47AM
In response to the question about repeated cut-time symbols. This occurs in the
Schubert Impromptu in Gb Op.90, No. 3. As written, it has two whole notes per measure, and it has continuous groups of 6 eighth-notes (quavers) in the accompaniment. A single "cut-time" I don't know whether the double symbol implies 4/2 time or 2/1 time. Does anyone else know?

One thing is clear, the page would be pretty messy because of all the flags on notes if it was written in 2/1

Re: Cut time
March 11, 2009 10:03AM
British terminology of note values:

double whole-note = breve (Latin for "short"... go figure.)
whole note = semibreve
half-note = minim
quarter-note = crotchet
8th note = quaver (barrel of laughs so far, right?)
16th note = semiquaver
32nd note = demisemiquaver
64th note = henidemisemiquaver
128th note = don't ask (mine's a pint...)
Re: Cut time
March 12, 2009 09:41PM
jonr Wrote:
> British terminology of note values:
> double whole-note = breve (Latin for "short"... go
> figure.)

It's because in ye olde olden days of yore, that was the SHORT note! They had "shorts" and "longs" - breve and longa (lunga).

They also had minims and semi-minims.

As time went on, our "shorter" note values became more commonplace, and the longer symbols fell out of use.

Re: Cut time
March 17, 2009 09:18AM
stevel wrote:

>It's because in ye olde olden days of yore, that was the SHORT note! They had "shorts" and "longs" - breve and longa (lunga).

Yes, I think they had double-longs too, right?
Damn, music must have taken ages back then....
Re: Cut time
June 01, 2011 09:10PM
Hey, Guys,

Let's remember that time signatures are written down to communicate the feel of a particular meter, and meter at the end of the day is merely the period of accents relative to beats. For example, if the accent on a particular series of beats is SwSwSwSwSw, we are clearly in a duple meter (perhaps more easily seen as Sw - Sw - Sw etc.). 2/4 and 2/2 are time signatures used to communicate to a music reader that the notes they are reading are to be felt and conceived of in a duple meter.

Modern American pop is overwhelmed with duple feels at the moment, particularly any music with a ferocious back beat and funk roots (like all of hip hop). Listen to Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix, and count it in four. Then go back and count it in two. Now, notate both, and see which makes more sense on the page. The two conception will jump out as more sensible almost immediately. Unfortunately, many sheet music publishers hear the music in four, and transcribe accordingly, making the music much more difficult to read, with lots of 16ths, etc., and occasional measures of 2/4 or 6/4 to account for strange measures that, once written in two, make so much more sense in terms of the long-view of musical phrases.

Good luck, and keep shedding!
Re: Cut time
June 01, 2011 09:14PM
BTW, the reason 2/2 is way better than 2/4, is to eliminate more difficult subdivisions, like 16ths and faster. Reading the beat at a half note means the subdivisions extremely common in duple are usually no more dense than 8th notes. It's simply easier to read 8ths than 16ths.
Re: Cut time
June 02, 2011 07:09AM
You're responding to a thread that's 2 years old.
Re: Cut time
May 08, 2012 05:12PM
Cut time is usually in marches. It was used so instrumentalists in marches could see the same notes, only bigger, on a smaller sheet of music, rather than see a lot of teeny tiny notes jumbled together
Re: Cut time
May 09, 2012 08:54PM
stevel Wrote:
> You're responding to a thread that's 2 years old.

Steffi, did you read the post above yours?

Someone responded to a thread that was two years old. My last response was 11 months ago.

And no, that' not why cut time was used.

Re: Cut time
June 07, 2012 02:15AM
Thanks for sharing this here with us.

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