Staff notation is not written as one long stream of musical note symbols and it is divided into chunks called bars or measures.

Measures or bar mean in music terms mean the same thing. In American music, the measure is more commonly used and the bar is preferred in other English speaking countries.

Generally, musicians should be acquainted with both terms. Once you have selected your preference, the entire workspace is updated to use your preferred term.

How Does Music Work?

Music bars are provided regular reference points for identifying locations within a piece of music.  It is making written music easier to follow, since each bar of staff symbols can be read and played as a batch. It is helping musicians to avoid becoming lost or out of time.

piece of music

The most obvious place to put the bar divisions in written music are on each repetition of the meter, and this is exactly what happens.

Skater’s Waltz: You may notice three notation marks used here that have not yet been explained. The 3/4 symbol appearing the first treble clef is the time signature.

It is telling the meter of the music and it has a three-beat rhythm, where the length of each beat is written as a quarter-note.

If we add up the lengths of the notes in each bar, we will get a total value of three quarter-notes.  A dot has a length of three beats.

We have a symbol for a whole-note and a half-note, but not a three-quarter-note.  Placing a dot after any note symbol extends it by an extra half of its length, so in this case, a half-note with a dot becomes the three-quarter-note that we need.

Finally, there are some long notes in this piece that should last for six beats.  However, these are split by three-beat meter and it is forcing to put a three-quarter-note in each of two bars.  So we are needed to use a curved line called a tie to rejoin the two parts and make clear that they are really a single long note.

Bars of music instrument can be notated by using additional staves running in parallel to the first one. The bar lines are joining the staves together on each row to keep the timing coordinated and it is making the whole arrangement clearer.