which tells YOU, the musician, 2 important facts:
The top number of the time signature tells you,
HOW MANY BEATS IN A MEASURE (or BAR)!
The bottom number of a time signature tells you,
WHICH NOTE VALUE GETS THE BEAT!
A time signature NEVER tells you:
How fast, or slow to play the music (that is the job of TEMPO).
How loud or soft to play the music (that is the job of DYNAMICS).
In a time signature, you can have ANY NUMBER as the top number (including some fractions).
The bottom number MUST be a NOTE VALUE, such as (in order of frequency):
4 (is the most Common) which tells you the QUARTER NOTE = 1 Beat
8 which tells you the EIGHTH NOTE = 1 Beat *
2 which tells you the HALF NOTE = 1 Beat *
16 which tells you the SIXTEENTH NOTE = 1 Beat
1 which tells you the WHOLE NOTE = 1 Beat
C = Common Time, which is 4/4
* TIE for frequency as second most common.
You can NEVER hear a time signature. A time signature is ONLY for notation purposes and the ease of reading music. You can only hear the number of beats.