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Most time signatures that we meet in the music we play with a lower number 8, are compound time, but there are also simple time signatures with an 8 below. We’ve already seen 3/8. In this lesson we’ll look at 2/8 and 4/8, which are quite a lot rarer.

The lower number 8 means the beat is a quaver (8th note).

2/8 – Simple Duple, two quavers (8th notes) per bar.

2/8 is a very seldom seen time signature. There are 2 quavers (8ths) per bar. A crotchet (quarter note) makes a complete bar, so it looks quite strange!

2/8 time signature

4/8 – Simple Quadruple, four quavers (8th notes) per bar.

4/8 time looks very similar to 2/4. The quavers are not normally beamed across the entire bar however, (because in quadruple time signatures we keep beat 3 clear).

4/8 time signature