# How to Change Time Signature in FL Studio

Time signatures in music dictate how we count the tempo and set the rhythm of the music. Most popular music today is set in common time which is 4/4. That’s why we’re able to clap along. If you’ve ever tried to clap along to a song but found it difficult, well, it probably was in another time signature. Let’s look at what time signature is in music is and how to change it in FL Studio.

## Understanding Time Signature

Simply put, time signature indicates how many beats make up one bar and what measure of time makes up one beat. Before we continue, let me first define the terms beats and bars as used in time signature.

Beats: A beat is the basic measure of time in music. In electronic music we can equate this to the ticks of the metronome. For example, one tick of the metronome represents one beat and four ticks of the metronome represents four beats. It can also be defined as the rhythm we tap our toes to.

Bar: In music, a bar is a single unit of time containing a specific amount of beats. In common time, 4/4, four beats make up one bar and this is why we always count 1, 2, 3, 4, and go back to one to indicate that another bar has started after the fourth beat.

Time signature is indicated as a fraction, for example, 4/4. The top number is called the numerator and indicates how many beats make up one bar. The bottom number is called the denominator and indicates what measure of time is counted as one beat. This measure of time could be half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, or sixteenth notes. For common time, 4/4, the denominator shows that one beat is the length of a quarter note while the numerator indicates there are four quarter notes in every bar. To understand this better, let’s look at other examples.

For 3/4, it means that three beats make up one bar and each beat is the length of a quarter note.

For 5/4, it means that five beats make up one bar and each beat is the length of a quarter note.

For 6/8, it means that six beats make up one bar and each beat is the length of an eighth note.

For 9/16, it means that nine beats make up one bar and each beat is the length of a sixteenth note.

## Changing Time Signature in FL Studio

In FL Studio, the default time signature is 4/4 meaning there are four beats in every bar and every beat is the length of a quarter note.

The image above shows 4/4 time in the playlist. The numbers at the top represent the number of bars while the yellow numbers represent the number of beats.

If you want to use a different time other than 4/4 you will have to change the time signature. To do this go to Options>Project>Project general settings.

This will open the project general settings window.

In the project settings window navigate to the time settings panel and select ‘Set as time signature’.

Here is where we’ll change the time signature of the whole project.

In FL Studio, the default time is 4/4 shown by the number four in the numerator and another four in the denominator. Changing these two values will change the time signature of the beat. As we’ve seen, the numerator indicates how many beats make up one bar and the denominator indicates what measure of time is considered as one beat.

To change the time signature to 3/4, all you have to do is change the numerator to 3 and the denominator to 4.

You will notice that in the playlist, a bar is now made up of three beats.

To change the time signature to 6/8, repeat the steps to open the project general settings window and navigate to the time settings panel. Here change the numerator to 6 and the denominator to 8.

This will in turn change the layout of the playlist.

Now there are six beats in every bar and every beat is made up of an eighth (1/8) note.

## Changing Time Signature Mid Song

In case you want to change the time signature as your song advances, go to the arrow at the top left of the playlist window. Open the drop down menu, go to ‘Time markers’ and select ‘Add time signature change’.

It will bring up a time signature change window.

Input your desired change. For example, to change it to 3/4 time change the numerator to three and let the denominator stay as four.

When done select ‘Accept’.

A time marker will be added to the playlist indicating the time signature change.

You can now move the time signature change marker to where you want the change to happen. Everything right of the marker will now play in 3/4 time until the end of the song or until it encounters another time signature change marker in the playlist.

Alternatively, you can change the time signature mid song using a pattern clip. This will only be possible if the pattern clip itself has a time signature maker in the piano roll of an instrument in the pattern.

To insert a time signature change marker in the piano roll, first go to the piano roll of the desired instrument. Then go to the arrow at the top left of the piano roll window and open the drop down menu. In the menu go to ‘Time markers’ and select ‘Add time signature change’.

It will bring up a time signature change window.

Input your desired change. For example, to change it to 3/4 time change the numerator to three and let the denominator stay as four.

When done select ‘Accept’.

A time signature change maker will be loaded in the time segment above the piano roll indicating its time signature.

To implement this time signature change in the playlist drop the pattern clip on the playlist. Click on the icon right next to the pattern’s name to open the pattern clip drop down menu. From the menu go to ‘Use current time signature from’ and then select ‘Pattern to playlist’.

This will copy the time signature change marker in the pattern and paste it on to the playlist at the start point of the clip.

To return the time signature back to common time or change it again, first place your mouse cursor in the time segment where you want the next time signature change to happen. (In this case it’s the 8th bar.) Right click and select ‘Add time signature’.

It will open the time signature change window.

Just like we did before, input your desired time signature and select accept. (Here it’s 4/4 so the numerator will be four and the denominator will also be four.)

A new time signature change marker will be added to the playlist indicating the time signature change.

## Conclusion

Understanding how time signatures work can be a hard thing, but once you do, it will open up new avenues of production. Back in the 1800s, Waltz music played in ¾ time (triple meter), was very popular. It was meant to paint the picture of the time since the 1800s are considered to be the romantic era. The 3/4 time evokes feelings of romance, elegance, fantasy and overall sound dream-like. Due to these characteristics, Waltz music has become a favorite feature in princess movies for example Disney’s Sleeping Beauty as it goes hand in hand with its theme. This is just an example of how time signature can affect how we perceive music. I hope this helped you understand time signatures better and how you can incorporate them in your productions in FL Studio. As always, have fun experimenting, bye!

Latest posts by Gasgoine K (see all)