Perfect Time

By: Deacon Marques Silva

For you musicians and disciples of St. Cecilia, I thought you would enjoy a reflection on perfect time. For those who read music, we are familiar with the “C” that may appear after the clef sign. It’s often the designation for 4/4 time or “common” time. This, of course, is a misnomer.commontimeThis C is not even a C. If we want to discuss common time or the most appropriate terminology in the history of music, it would be “perfect” time. Except perfect time has three beats in a measure. In Music history, this trinity of beats was considered analogous to the three Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity. Naturally – or symbolically – a complete circle, with the connotations of God’s completeness and perfection, was used as its sign. 4/4 time, on the other hand, was not perfect and complete, and so it is symbolized by incomplete circle…the “C” that is not a “C”.[1]


[1] Peter Klein, ed., The Catholic Source Book: A Comprehensive Collection of Information about the Catholic Church, 3 ed. (Dubuque, Iowa: ACTA Publications, 1999), 473.

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