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Types of barlines.

In musical notation, a bar (or measure) is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. Typically, a piece consists of several bars of the same length, and in modern musical notation the number of beats in each bar is specified at the beginning of the score by a time signature (such as 3/4).

The word measure is heard more frequently in the U.S., while bar is used in other English-speaking countries, although musicians generally understand both usages. The word bar derives from the vertical lines which separate one measure from another, and not the bar-like (i.e., rectangular) dimensions of a typical measure of music.


Bar line

A bar line (or barline) is a vertical line which separates measures. A double barline (or double bar) can consist of two single barlines drawn close together, separating two sections within a piece, or a barline followed by a thicker barline, indicating the end of a piece or movement. Note that the term double bar refers not to a type of bar (i.e., measure), but to a type of barline. Music end is a term for the barline denoting the end of a piece of music.[1]

A Repeat sign (or, improperly, repeat barline) looks like the music end, but it has two dots, one above the other, indicating that the section of music that is before is to be repeated. The beginning of the repeated passage can be marked by a begin-repeat sign; if this is absent the repeat is understood to be from the beginning of the piece or movement. This begin-repeat sign, if appearing at the beginning of a staff, does not act as a barline because no bar is before it; its only function is to indicate the beginning of the passage to be repeated.

In music with a regular meter, bars function to indicate a periodic agogic accent in the music, regardless of its duration. In music employing mixed meters, barlines are instead used to indicate the beginning of rhythmic note groups, but this is subject to wide variation: some composers use dashed barlines, others (including Hugo Distler) have placed barlines at different places in the different parts to indicate varied groupings from part to part.

The bar line is much, much more than a mere accent, and I don't believe that it can be simulated by an accent, at least not in my music.
Igor Stravinsky , DeLone et al. (Eds.), 1975, chap. 3

"Double Bar Group" is Music Club By Double Bar


A hypermeasure, large-scale or high-level measure, or measure-group is a metric unit in which, generally, each regular measure is one beat (actually hyperbeat) of a larger meter. Thus a beat is to a measure as a measure/hyperbeat is to a hypermeasure. Hypermeasures must be larger than a notated bar, perceived as a unit, consist of a pattern of strong and weak beats, and along with adjacent hypermeasures, which must be of the same length, create a sense of hypermeter. The term was coined by Edward T. Cone. [2]

See also


  1. ^ − Chart of Musical Symbols
  2. ^ Stein 2005, p.18-19, 329


  • DeLone et al. (Eds.) (1975). Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-049346-5.
  • Stein, Deborah (2005). Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis, Glossary. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517010-5.

Simple English

A bar or measure is used in writing music. Each bar is a small amount of time. Most music has a regular beat (or pulse) which can be felt. Each bar usually has the same number of beats in it. Music that feels like 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 will be divided into bars with four beats-worth of music in each bar.

The bar line (or barline) is a vertical line which separates the bars.

At the beginning of the music there will be a time signature which shows how many beats there are in each bar.

A double bar does not mean "two bars". It means two single barlines drawn close together, one being thicker than the other. It is a "repeat sign". If there are two dots on the left of the double bar line the player should go back to where there was previously a double bar with two dots on the right, or back to the beginning of the piece.

A double barline without dots shows the end of a piece of music.

The first beat of a bar feels stronger than the others. When a conductor beats time, his hand (or baton) always goes DOWN for the first beat of the bar. This feels strong. The last beat of a bar is an "upbeat" because the conductor's hand always goes up.

Barlines have been used since around 1600.


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