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Thread: Different Time Signatures and Themes - which to present first?

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    Default Different Time Signatures and Themes - which to present first?

    I'm writing a classical piece of music and also studying other works by other composers.

    I'm curious as to know if you can have a classical piece that has 2 different themes, each with its own time signature.

    I have written a theme that is "pompous" (4/4) and one "serene" (3/4). I'd like to end my piece with the pomous theme, the question is:

    Was it common in classical music to have different time signatures throughout the piece? It is not a symphony I'm writing, it is shorter. Maybe 3-5 minutes in total.

    If I can have different time signatures, was it common to have a theme with a specific time signature that appeared first or last? Or did it no matter?

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Yes, that is perfectly acceptable. Doing so is quite normal for 20thc and later works. It is less common in earlier common-practice music. Late medieval composers did it all the time. The trick is making the piece sound unified and the transitions coherent.

    I don't understand what you mean by your last question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Yes, that is perfectly acceptable. Doing so is quite normal for 20thc and later works. It is less common in earlier common-practice music. Late medieval composers did it all the time. The trick is making the piece sound unified and the transitions coherent.

    I don't understand what you mean by your last question.
    Ok. Do you have any examples of later compositions where they are making use of different time signatures?

    In regards to my last question: Do you have the 4/4 first, then 3/4 later or opposite, or does it not matter?
    Last edited by mediumaevum; Jun-28-2018 at 22:21.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mediumaevum View Post
    Ok. Do you have any examples of later compositions where they are making use of different time signatures?

    In regards to my last question: Do you have the 4/4 first, then 3/4 later or opposite, or does it not matter?
    There is no rule about which would come first or second. That depends entirely on the material.

    A good example of different time signatures for two themes would be the first movement of Prokofiev's Second Piano Sonata. The opening material is in 2/4, the contrasting theme starting in m. 64 is in 3/4. It switches back and forth. The finale of the same sonata begins in 6/8 but changes to 2/4 in m. 51, then back again later.

    Why are they so sick and ridiculous, Dannie?
    Two, four, six, eight, they brainwash and teach you hate!

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    Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, where time signatures hop all over the place, sometimes with different time signatures in different parts of the orchestra simultaneously. Here's the final part ("Sacrificial Dance"), with a scrolling score of the piano duet arrangement as a guide:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZtWAqc3qyk

    In response to your other question, I don't think it matters whether one time signature comes before another.
    Last edited by Reichstag aus LICHT; Jul-01-2018 at 12:12.

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