Author Topic: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8  (Read 5353 times)

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Offline mali

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Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« on: February 21, 2012, 07:53:53 am »
I'm slightly confused about rhythms like the ones I mention in the heading. I know that 3/4 is valz rhythm (123,123 etc), but what I don't understand is what the "4" is about? Why isn't it simply 3/3? I have gotten the impression that all rhytms have either 4, 8, 12 etc as the last number (the "/4", "/8" etc), but it doesn't really make sense to me. The practical application is fine, if a lesson tells me to count 123, or 1234, no problem, I'm just puzzled about the whole structure.

Online Majik

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 09:13:18 am »
Whilst the top number tells you how many beats are in the bar, the bottom number tells you what type of beat they are.

When you see "4" in the bottom number that tells you the beats are crotchet or quarter-note beats. So 3/4 means "three crotchets per bar". If you saw 3/8 that would mean "three quavers per bar".

Note I'm using the British naming convention here as it makes the descriptions a little easier to read
crotchet = quarter-note
quaver = eighth-note

What might not be so clear is that the time signature doesn't just tell you how many beats are in a bar and how fast to play, but also hints at the emphasis or grouping of beats within the bar. So whilst 3/4 and 6/8 may seem to be the same thing (as 3 crotchets takes the same amount of time as 6 quavers), there is a subtle difference in emphasis:

3/4 goes       one          two            three, one          two            three
6/8 goes       one   and  a   two   and   a,  one   and   a two   and   a

These sound different because of the implied emphasis. The first sounds like a traditional waltz tempo with 3 beats per bar, whilst the second has more of a two beats per bar feel.

Cheers,

Keith

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Offline jacksroadhouse

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 09:43:47 am »
3/4 goes       one          two            three, one          two            three
6/8 goes       one   and  a   two   and   a,  one   and   a two   and   a
I think this last bit might be a little confusing, Keith. In Justin's (and many others of course) counting scheme, a "one and a" would be an eighth and two sixteenth.

Offline mali

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 12:48:18 pm »
Thanks a lot Keith, that makes sense ;) I've never really gotten into to rhythm theory before, I have followed rhythm a lot, used to play saxofone in a music corps, but I've never really given it alot of thought. It's different now that I'm responsible for creating my own rhythm :)

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 01:04:26 pm »
The 4 is a relative number. It denotes a 1/4 note. But a 1/4 note can be any length of time that suits you ( or the song ).

For instance I can write a song where a 1/4 note is one second long. I can then write that in 3/4 time. It will count One two three. One two three.

You can write a song in 3/4 where your 1/4 note is a quarter second long. Your count will be One two three, One two three.

So what's different?   Only the tempo.

What is the same?  The fact that the playing of each of our songs is well suited to subdividing or multiplying the 1/4 beats into 1/8, 1/16, triplets, whole notes, etc... IOW, each of our songs is most easily played with 1/4 notes being the chosen length. In my case one second and in your case 4x fast ar .25 seconds.

There is no relation between your song and mine. The fact that your 1/4 note is .25 seconds long does not make my 1 second note a whole note ( 4 quarters = whole ). Again the difference we have is Tempo.

Quarter Notes are good middle of the road note values. you can divide them down for your small divisions and multiply them up for your long notes and they make sense in context of the intended song.

So if you keep that in mind, that while Tempo is the same for everyone, .... 120 BPM is the same. 90 BPM is the same  AND Time Signature is the same... 3/4 will always sound like ONE two three ONE two three and 4/4 will always sound like ONE two three four ONE two three four, and 6/8 will always sound like ONE two three Four five six. but a 1/4 note or any "bottom number" will be relative.  Actually it's always tied to Tempo but hopefully you see that everyone's 1/4 note is not the same length of time ( unless of course the tempo was identical as well )

Also I like to count 6/8 as ONE two three Four five six where the ONE is the heavy accent and the Four is accented but not quite as bold as the ONE..  So for instance if you had MIDI note values of 127 for the ONE and a value of 90 for the two, three and five six, the Four might be at 115

So.... 127  90  90  115 90 90. I find that helps keep things from sounding like 127 90 90 127 90 90 which can sound like 3/4. Obviously this can be varied through the song and not a must do situation.
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Offline mumbles

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 02:26:12 pm »
I don't understand [...] what the "4" is about? Why isn't it simply 3/3?

3/3 would denote three beats divided by 3. If you look at the time signature 3/4 you can see that it's 4 beats divided by 3.

This isn't the same as just playing 3 of the 4 beats. That would need a rest on one of the beats. The 3/4 gets its distinctive pulse because there is no rest between the 3 notes that are played in the time of the 4 beats.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 03:37:02 pm »
3/3 would denote "3rd notes"  which would equate to dotted 1/4 notes. So a bar of 3/3 would be written

Q. Q. Q. | Q. Q. Q. |   There is no 1/3 note in typical communication. 



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Offline mumbles

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2012, 11:46:02 am »
3/3 would denote "3rd notes"  which would equate to dotted 1/4 notes. So a bar of 3/3 would be written

Q. Q. Q. | Q. Q. Q. |   There is no 1/3 note in typical communication.  

TBH I've never come across '3' time anywhere. My understanding is that the lower number dictates what the number of beats in the bar is and the upper number dictates the number of notes per bar so that a quarter note symbol in 2/2 time represents 1 note per beat in the time of two beats and in 4/4 time 1 note per beat in the time of four beats. The difference being that to play 4 notes in a bar in 2/2 time, you'd use eighth notes.

Following that logic, 3/3 (if there were such a thing - and like you, I don't believe there is)would see the quarter note represent 1 note per beat in the time of 3 beats rather than one and half notes per beat in the time of 3 beats.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2012, 02:02:43 pm by mumbles »

Offline jacksroadhouse

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2012, 12:39:24 pm »
My understanding is that the lower note dictates what the number of beats in the bar is and the upper number dictates the number of notes per bar ...
If that were the case, then in 3/4 time you'd have 4 beats in a bar and 3 notes playes in that time, right? Doesn't quite add up, wouldn't you say?

Offline mumbles

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2012, 01:59:57 pm »
My understanding is that the lower note dictates what the number of beats in the bar is and the upper number dictates the number of notes per bar ...
If that were the case, then in 3/4 time you'd have 4 beats in a bar and 3 notes playes in that time, right?


That's exactly how it works. 3 notes to each bar. If you want to play 4 notes, you either go into the next bar or one of the notes becomes two eighth notes.





Offline TB-AV

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 02:20:43 pm »
Quote
TBH I've never come across '3' time anywhere.

That was my point..... The upper number is how many beats per measure. The lower number is the note value that gets one beat. There is no such thing as a 1/3 note but it can be represented by traditional alterations such as dotted notes. Same with triplets, They all fit the space of 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 or whatever.

You will never hear 1/6 1/3, because they are traditionally something else.

If you tried to play a bar of 3/3, one of two things would happen.....

first off let's play it...

Tap Tap Tap     ok, that sounds like 3/4 to me.  But... what if the beat underlying was going thump thump thump thump in the same amount of time.

That would tell you it's 4/4 time.  But you still only want to play three notes to fill up that space.

That is basically creating two rhythms and sounds like this...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2aX_2-vM2U&feature=endscreen&NR=1  but it is still not considered as x/3 for any reason.

My example of dotted quarters was not good. what I was trying to show was that everything relates to 1/4 notes but got my math wrong. Q. Q. = 1/4+1/8  1/4+1/8 = 3 Q notes  I put too many notes in the bar.

Notice in the above YT example both sets of notes are 1/4 notes but have different lengths.  That was the main point I was trying to make to the OP. the simply fact that not all quarter notes are equal ( even when play at the same time in poly rhythms.  A quarter note is a relative basis from which you build your rhythm. x/3 is unnecessary as it's already available in the whole, half, quarter counting system we all use.

X = Beats per measure
-
y = note value that gets a beat ( typically 1/4, 1/8, 1/2 )

===============
ETA: @mumbles..... it's not "notes" per bar. It's "beats" per bar. big difference.




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Offline mumbles

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 02:27:29 pm »
@TB-AV: Yep. Agree with all of that (including the post script admonishment). That puts it way better than I did.

Offline jacksroadhouse

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2012, 02:45:44 pm »
My understanding is that the lower note dictates what the number of beats in the bar is and the upper number dictates the number of notes per bar ...
If that were the case, then in 3/4 time you'd have 4 beats in a bar and 3 notes playes in that time, right?


That's exactly how it works. 3 notes to each bar. If you want to play 4 notes, you either go into the next bar or one of the notes becomes two eighth notes.

Not to play last word freak here, but TB explained what I was getting at here. in 3/4 time you have 3 beats to a bar, not 4 ;)

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2012, 02:58:25 pm »
Quote
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AddwD9NEKok

This guy has a good video on 6/8 and 3/4

the main thing to remember is that 3/4 time is simple time. It's ONE PULSE. Looked at in short segments it's hard to tell from 6/8 but in a whole song that is 6/8 you can get lost.

6/8 is a compound beat. Meaning it gets TWO PULSES to complete.

This can be seen in this visual. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMWZWIWSKIw Notice the blue hammer is hitting 1 - 2, 1 -2.

Now pretend like the 7/8 thing was not there but instead it was just hitting  1 2 3 . If it had it's own blue hammer it would simply be bouncing down on the 1. It would just hit 1 ---- 1 ---- 1 ----- 1----- 1

So watch the 6/8 side and imagine the other side as............

1      1      1
1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3



So together they look like.

1      2      1       2
1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

1      1      1    
1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 now imagine if right here a Chorus kicked in or even a time sig change to 4/4. Can you see how the 6/8 would still have a half bar to go.  ..... and that's where everything falls apart if you were trying to play along. All of a sudden you would be off time.

So if you are trying to figure is something is 3/4 or 6/8 listen for things to sound complete as a TWO PULSE or a ONE PULSE. Sometimes you need to count well into the song to be certain.


ETA: on those youtube graphics some of the other videos show multiple rhythms and they are listed as maybe 5:9 7:3 or other odd numbers. Don;t confuse that with TIME SIGNATURES. Those are simply ratios meaning 5 beats against 3 beats or 5 against 9 or whatever. They might even have 7:11  7 against 11. But those are not valid time sigs. Again, no such thing as a 1/11 note


ETA: You can really hear the difference in these two. By the rim hits mostly with his right hand. The bass is on 1 in both cases but the rim hits are totally different.

3/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFg_V8Yj3NA

6/8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkAPih7Zbvo&feature=channel
« Last Edit: February 22, 2012, 04:06:12 pm by TB-AV »
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Offline mumbles

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Re: Rhythms like 3/4 and 6/8
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2012, 04:06:29 pm »
Not to play last word freak here, but TB explained what I was getting at here. in 3/4 time you have 3 beats to a bar, not 4 ;)


Yep. He explained it way better than you or I ;D