Determining Meter and Key

Sometimes we can play something back without thinking too much about it. But it is also usually useful to have some idea of the context we’re working in and in particular those important contexts of key and meter.

Fortunately, we’ve already gone through the processes of determining meter and key. You may wish to return to those now, but here’s a quick review.

For playback, we don’t necessarily need to come up with a time signature to represent what we hear: as long as we can feel it in our bodies, we should be set.


Once we’ve found the tonic, we turn to our instrument and try to find that note. Once we’ve found the note on the instrument, it may help to either play or visualize the scale, too, to think about what notes we’re likely to need as we try to play the music back.

Activity: Determine tonic and meter

Goal: Develop listening habits that prioritize context (key and meter).

Instructions: Listen to the songs in the playlist below. For each, determine key and meter. We will continue working with these songs over the next few sections, so it may be helpful to get comfortable with each meter and locate the notes of the appropriate key on your instrument.


Suggest a song for this playlist!


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Foundations of Aural Skills Copyright © 2022 by Timothy Chenette is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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