Music theory > Lessons > Duration of sounds > Time signature > 2/4 time signature example

2/4 time signature example

Explanation of 2/4 time signature

In the article time signature, this is explained that:

- the top number indicates the number of time units in a measure (bar united kingdom).
- the bottom number determines the unit of time.

We can visually translate 2/4 like this:

2/4 time signature

That is to say that there are 2 quarter notes quarter note (crotchet) (crotchets united kingdom) per measure and the unit of time is the quarter note (a beat corresponds to one quarter note):

Beats in 2/4 time signature

1 quarter note quarter note (crotchet) (crotchet united kingdom) equals 1 beat.
2 eighth notes eighth note (quaver) (quavers united kingdom) equals 1 beat.
4 sixteenth notes sixteenth note (semiquaver) (semiquavers united kingdom) equals 1 beat.
and so on...

Examples found in famous works

Mozart, Alla Turca

The Alla Turca rondo of Mozart's Piano Sonata N° 11 uses the 2/4 time signature:


This sound sample is from a 1925 recording, on a 78 rpm disc, recorded by pianist Una Bourne (source).
In this musical sample, you will notice the use of anacrusis , acciaccaturas (grace notes) as well as a repeat barline.

Beethoven, Finale, symphony n° 3

The fourth movement entitled Finale of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No.3 in E flat major begins with a 2/4 time signature:


This royalty-free musical sample from Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 Finale in E-flat major was recorded by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra (source, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license).
You will notice the use of offbeats.

Beethoven, Symphony n°5 (Allegro con brio)

The first movement (Allegro con brio) of Beethoven's Symphony No.5 in C minor begins with a 2/4 time signature:


This sheet music sample is an arrangement for piano by the famous pianist and composer Franz Liszt. Royalty free sound sample recorded in 1949 by the orchestra of the Paris Conservatory conducted by Carl Schuricht.(source)

You will notice the half-cadence united states of america (Imperfect cadence united kingdom) in measure 21.

Beethoven, the Pastoral Symphony

Beethoven's Symphony N°6 in F major, entitled the Pastoral Symphony, begins with a 2/4 time signature:

Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 (the Pastoral Symphony) by Ludwig van Beethoven

In this sheet music sample from the first movement arranged for piano by the famous pianist and composer Franz Liszt, you will notice the half-cadence (Imperfect cadence united kingdom) that occurs very early from the beginning of this symphony, it immediately gives a feeling of lightness, as if time was suspended despite the fact that the symphony has just begun.

Chopin, Nocturne opus 15 n°2

Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne opus 15 n°2 uses a 2/4 time signature:


(Royalty free musical sample performed by pianist Samson François in 1964, Creative Commons Zero 1.0 license, source)
You will notice that this work uses a key that is not widely used: F sharp Major. You will also notice the use of an anacrusis, double sharp (measures 5,10,12), trills (measure 7), sixteenth note quintuplets (measure 3), and sixteenth note septuplets (measure 10).

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