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View Full Version : How do you count 6 or 8 notes per beat



flathead
09-25-2003, 05:25 PM
I know quarter notes are 1-e-and-a-2-e-and-a-3 etc... but I cant figure out how to count 6 or 8 notes per beat? thanks

Zatz
09-25-2003, 06:01 PM
flathead,

Szulc wrote a great article on this topic. Here's the link:

Meter & rythm atricle (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/learn/article/101)

Zatz.

DanF
09-25-2003, 07:11 PM
Just to clarify you aren't talking about counting a bar in 6/8 time or something like that you mean one of these freaky Frank Zappa, Steve Vai irregular groupings right?

I wanted to point out that I included a time signature. I found it strange that none of szulc's examples in that article has a time signature, how do you understand meter without being given one? Didn't seem very intuitive to me. So this is 6 notes being played in the time of 1 quarter note (4/4 time).

-Dan

Bizarro
09-25-2003, 09:15 PM
Flathead, your counting example is for 16th notes, not quarter notes. 16th notes are 4 notes per beat in 4/4 time.

Just double your counting to get to 6 or 8. If you mentally double the speed (bpm) then you can count normally for 3 and 4 notes per beat.

szulc
09-25-2003, 11:40 PM
The article had no time signature BECAUSE it was about meter and understanding what meter is.

Meter and time signature are somewhat subjective.
Notation of time signature came about as a result of people wanting to clearly indicate the pulse or rhythm of music on paper.
You could count music as 4/4 or 2/2 and it could sound the same.
Meter comes in only two flavors triple and duple, everything else is a combination of the two. It is exactly like prime numbers (2 and 3 are both prime!). There is no number (greater than 1) you can't represent with an equation like 2X + 3Y where X and Y are positive integers (or zero).

The article was about the understanding of what meter really is and how it is subdivided using 2 and 3 as factors.

szulc
09-25-2003, 11:44 PM
We were taught to count triplets as 1 trip let 2 trip let 3 trip let etc....
so for sextuplets you could use 1 sex tup u let a 2 sex tup u let a and for 16th note you could use 1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a.

loveguitar
09-26-2003, 02:54 AM
hi James,

sorry but I am still confuse about your article saying that
the type of notes is just a means of dividing units of time.

So if I hear the drum beats as a duple, or 2 beats, how do you determine the note type?

In time signature notation (sorry I am more familiar with this notation), is 2/4, 2/8, 2/2 or what? What difference does it make?

Second question is, about the accents you mentioned, so the by changing the beats of the drum changes the accent too?

szulc
09-26-2003, 03:29 AM
In time signature notation (sorry I am more familiar with this notation), is 2/4, 2/8, 2/2 or what? What difference does it make? Exactly!
Duple is Duple. The type of note you let count as one beat is kind of arbitrary. So 2/4 if you want a 1/4 to get a count or 2/8 if you want an 1/8th note to get a count or 2/2 if you want a half note to get a count.

Remember the top number is beats per measure and the bottom note is the type of note that lasts for one beat.
Second question is, about the accents you mentioned, so the by changing the beats of the drum changes the accent too? I am not sure I understand this question.

loveguitar
09-26-2003, 04:08 AM
Originally posted by szulc
Exactly!
Duple is Duple. The type of note you let count as one beat is kind of arbitrary. So 2/4 if you want a 1/4 to get a count or 2/8 if you want an 1/8th note to get a count or 2/2 if you want a half note to get a count.

Remember the top number is beats per measure and the bottom note is the type of note that lasts for one beat.

I am not sure I understand this question.

Thanks. Maybe one reason I can think of is if a guitarist
shreds 16 notes within one beat, we might not want to
use a 1/8th note as the note type, if not each note becomes a 1/128th note (might not have a notation for that)!!

As for the second question, what I mean is if the drummer
starts changing the accent from 2nd beat to 4th beat, it also means the beats per measure is changed?

szulc
09-26-2003, 01:53 PM
As for the second question, what I mean is if the drummer starts changing the accent from 2nd beat to 4th beat, it also means the beats per measure is changed?

This is one of those times when musical staff could save a thousand words!

Is this what you mean and if it is, then NO!

Even though I posted no 4/4 meter on this staff, the accents could make you think (subjectively) that this is 5/4 time. In the absence of any other reference (bar lines or other musical parts) you could very well classify this as 5/4 since the accents are on every fifth beat.

DanF
09-26-2003, 06:03 PM
I wanted to talk about that 4/4 and 2/2 example. If they would sound the same then why would you differentiate between 4/4 and 2/2? The answer is for notational purposes. If you were going to write piece that was very fast or very slow you might choose to notate it with a different time signature so that rather than writing a string of 32nd notes (hard to read quickly) you could write them as 1/16ths etc.

Another thing is the difference between simple and compound meters. There is more than one kind of triple meter and they sound different. In all fairness this wasn't something I could get from reading, I had to have someone teach this to me in person. Not trying to rag on you szulc, just constructive criticism. (I hope that's how you take it).

-Dan

szulc
09-26-2003, 06:07 PM
Explain your different types of Triple meter.
And what differentiates them?
Technically, triple meter is not compound meter. It is one of the two atomic types.

DanF
09-26-2003, 06:33 PM
It's a function of the time signature and it depends on the notes really. A piece in 6/8 could be either but lets back up.

A piece in 9/8 does not have 9 beats per measure where each 1/8th note gets a beat. It has three beats and so it's a dotted quarter that gets a beat. This is a compound triple meter. 6/8 (Depending on the notes) is usually a compound duple meter. Well anyway I have to go. I reread what I wrote and I said that they "sound different" I didn't mean that you could listen to a peice and decide if it was a fast 3/4 or a slow 6/8 I just meant that when you count them out with a metronome they're different.

I'd be glad to discuss it more when I get back, you can also read some about it at http://www.music.indiana.edu/som/theory/t511/meter.html

-Dan

szulc
09-26-2003, 07:02 PM
from http://www.music.indiana.edu/som/theory/t511/meter.html


The number of beats in a compound meter can be determined by dividing the top number of the time signature by three.

So 7/8 is really 2.33 beats?
I think (know) this is incorrect.

There are several ways to look at triple triple meter, the method closest to the one you are suggesting is 3/4 time with triplets on each beat. The fact that the musical phrase repeats every 9 notes is why it is triple triple. Whether you count it as 1-9 or 1-3 doesn't really make a flip as long as in the latter you are counting the notes as triplets and in the former you are counting them as 1/8 th (or some other easily divisable by 2 value).

6/8 is always compound duple or triple meter (double triple or triple duple).

You can set you metronome to any linear combination of the factors of the meter you are wanting to play and make it work.
In fact this is a good exercise.

The meter (rhythmic pulse) came first, long before the notation, the notation is just a way to communicate it. The notation doesn't dictate what the music sounds like, the music dictates how the notation should be written.

Whether you decide to notate triple triple with 1/4 notes in 9/4 or triplets in 3/4 or 1/8th notes as fractions of dotted quarters, which is in my opinion is unnecessarily complicated, is a matter of choice and convieniance.

DanF
09-26-2003, 08:07 PM
7/8 is a different animal that would be a group of 4 and a group of 3 (or vice versa).

This will be my last attempt at showing what I'm saying. Two "sections" of melodies (if you could call them that) in 6/8 time. But because of the difference in simple or compound meter they sound different. Play them through powertab and I think you'll hear what I mean.


6/8 is always compound duple or triple meter (double triple or triple duple).

That makes no sense to me, the problem is you're using terminology that as far as I know (which is not very far, I admit) doesn't go together. Considering that I just passed my rhythm and meter test in music theory I think my understanding is decent. At anyrate like you said this stuff all has more to do with notation than with the actual sound of the music so if you and I still disagree after this I think we can just agree to disagree. I wasn't even sure if it was worth my time to write another reply. I don't mean to sound like I'm trying to play the credentials game but out of curiosity are you self-taught or have you taken a college theory class?

-Dan

szulc
09-26-2003, 09:09 PM
Yes, I have had music theory in college!

Duple: groups of two
Triple: groups of three
Double: times two
Triple: times three
In this case the meaning of triple is ambiguous (somewhat).

It is simple math!
6/8 is either 3 groups of 2 thus triple duple or duple times three if you prefer (Accents 1 3 5)
or
2 groups of 3 thus double triple or triple times 2 if you prefer(Accents 1 4.

The mathmatica formula for this is
3D + 0T (Accents 1 3 5)
or
0D + 2T (Accents 1 4)

Your example shows 1/4 notes in 6/8 which sounds identical to 1/4 notes in 3/4, this is true triple meter,(not compound) there is no benefit in having this be 6/8. It only unnecessarily complicates the matter.

The second example shows 1/8 notes in 6/8 (actual compound meter, not triple). The way you have them grouped is double triple meter (2 groups of three notes), assuming the accents (which are absent in your example) are on 1 and 4 (using 1/8 notes as the unit). If the accents were on 1, 3, 5 it would be triple duple (3 groups of two notes ) meter.

It is obvious that these example sound different since they are composed of different notes in different groupings.

If the second example was accented on 1,3,5 and then was played in 3/4 time it would sound identical. Since it is accented on 1, 4 this is the least common factored meter to use for double triple meter ( 2 * 3 = 6). It could be played in 12/8 time with 1/4 notes accented on 1 and 7 and sound identical. Granted the metronome would have to be slowed down (by half), but it would be indistinguishable by listening.

This all gets back to my first point about triple meter not being compound it is one of only two atomic meters. The examples you have shown to demonstrate different types of "triple" meter are actually compound (not triple).

If a meter is in its least common factor form meaning the top number can't be divided further without losing accent information, and there are more than 3 beats or more specifically the top number is greater than 3, it is compound. Compound is neither duple or triple is is always a linear combination of both of them. Therefore, there is only 1 type of triple meter and only one type of duple meter, all other meters are compound.

Once again set theory comes to the rescue!
You have D where D is the set of multiples of Duple meters and T where T is the set of multiples of Triple meters, the intersection of these two sets is the set of all compound meters.

Bizarro
09-27-2003, 06:05 PM
My college music theory text states that "identifying meter is a matter of interpretation rather than right or wrong"...

Many people identify quadruple meter as being another basic grouping, even though it could be interpreted as two groups of two beats. For example, quadruple is usually strong-weak-less strong-weak in terms of the accent pattern. This is clearly different that saying it is two duples, strong-weak-strong-weak.

Additionally, some people naturally hear (interpret) things as fast triple, some hear slower duple, etc. It's just an interpretation.

There's also a difference between division of a beat and meter type.

Division of a beat is usually simple beat (2 equal parts) and compound beat (3 equal parts).

Time signature is a whole different issue. It exists to tell the performer how many beats will occur in each measure, what note value will represent the beat, and whether the beat is simple or compound.

Compound time signatures do not follow the rule of "the top number tells how many beats are in a measure, and the bottom number tells what note gets a beat". But sometimes it works out anyways, like 6/8.

And we still wonder why most guitarists don't bother with reading music?:D

flathead
09-27-2003, 09:40 PM
LOL I am so confused. I just won't play anything faster than 16th notes.:)

Bizarro
09-28-2003, 03:04 AM
:D No kidding! :D

I'll play a 16th note, or 17th note, whatever it takes. (indirect Mr. Mom quote).;)

DanF
09-29-2003, 07:01 PM
Computer died on me. Anyway I think we're just using different terms. You talk more about accents which really doesn't come up much at all in the way the few textbooks I've seen describe meter and time. Then also, textbooks will usually say that it is incorrect to just call something triple or duple, this would be like saying you drive a Ford. You drive a ford ____.

I guess since I have microbiology I could say it's like naming the Genus and not giving the species...hey that's pretty good. Anyhoo I'm done.

-Dan

jackleg
10-03-2003, 09:47 PM
...i just got into an argument with my drummer over this exact topic the other day and i think we were both right in the way we saw it...we were just interpretting it differrently...i'll never do that again for as long as i live...at least not with a drummer!!!