How to tell the time signature of a song by listening?


Using only your ears, it's impossible to determine the exact time signature the composer would have used when writing the score. This is because there are many ways to write the same thing, all of which sound the same when played.
For example, a piece written in 3/4 time can easily be re-written in 3/8 time by halving all the note values and playing it half as fast. The listener has no way of telling which you chose.
The real trick is to determine the pulse of the song, which you do by feeling the rhythm of the music and identifying how often beat 1 happens. It's then up to you to choose a time signature that makes sense to you and the musicians around you!


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