Time signatures are placed at the left side of the staff on the first line of music. Time signatures are not written on each line of music, and are only displayed again if there is a change in the meter of the music.
METER = MUSIC’S BEAT STRUCTURE
The upper case “C” displayed as an abbreviation for common-time is a time signature. You already know that a measure of common-time can be filled with 4 quarter notes. Common-time is the time signature 4-4 Time.
A TIME SIGNATURE is a set of Two Numbers.
TOP NUMBER = the number of beats in a measure
BOTTOM NUMBER = type of note that defines the beat
Although the set of two numbers look like fractions, they are not fractions!
Each number represents a distinct and specific function.
When there are 4 beats in a measure then the top number is 4, which is the most common time.
The top number can be any number, and is determined by the grouping of beat patterns that fill measures.
Here is the answer to the question posed earlier:
How can a 6- beat note can fit in a measure? Answer 6-4 Time!
The examples above display time signatures with quarter notes as the beat.