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Victoria Williams

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11. Rewriting in a New Time Signature

Grade 2 Music Theory - Lesson 11: Rewriting a Melody in a New Time Signature 

Suitable for:  ABRSM Grade 2   GCSE   AP Music Theory Beginners 

(ABRSM only)

What's New in Grade Two

ABRSM Grade 2 Music Theory introduces a new kind of exercise with time signatures which you didn't see in Grade 1: rewriting music in a new time signature.

The question will ask you to rewrite a melody using notes and rests which have either TWICE or HALF the value of the original.

The new time signature will already be in place, and you'll get a few notes done for you to get you started. 


Twice the Value

Here's an example question:

Rewrite the following in notes of twice the value, beginning as shown.

Rewrite this melody in notes of twice the value


There's actually nothing very complicated about doing this!

Start by jotting down, lightly in pencil, the value of each note in order, like this:

Notes and their values

Each of the original notes needs to be twice as long. This means you need to change each one into the next longest type of note. So, if you have a

Semiquaver , change it into a Quaver ;

if you have a Quaver , change it into a Crotchet ,

and so on.


Dealing with Dotted Notes and Ties

What do we do with dotted notes? Just change them in the same way, but keep the dot there!

Looking at small dotted notes like quavers (eighth notes) can get confusing, so let's compare a dotted crotchet and a dotted minim to see what happens.

Dotted Crotchet = 1½ beats (or 3 quavers/8th notes)

Dotted Minim = 3 beats (or 6 quavers/8th notes)

So, you can see that a dotted minim (half note) is twice as long as a dotted crotchet (quarter note). In the same way, a dotted quaver (eighth note) is twice as long as a dotted semiquaver (16th note), and so on.

Here's the finished answer to our question:

Finished answer

Tied notes don't need any special treatment either - just add any ties in the same place in your rewritten tune.


Half the Value

If you are asked to rewrite the music in notes/rests of half the value, the process is the same, but the other way round.

A semibreve (whole note) will become a minim (half note), a minim will become a crotchet (quarter note) and so on.

Again, dots don't make a difference, just keep them there! Look at the finished answer for the question we just did - if we halve all the note values in our answer we'll get back to the original note values again!

Make sure you write your notes and rests out as neatly as you can, and don't forget to add any ties or accidentals if necessary!



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