Odd time signatures

posted on #1
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Joined: 27.11.11
I'm loving Dafunkydrummer's [url=http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack.php?jamsession=5055]latest beat[/url] but it's got me thinking about time signatures, specifically the difference between 3/4 and 6/8.

Both examples have 3 crotchets (or 6 quavers) per measure so the difference is more about emphasis and feel than about maths and counting. The way I understand it is this:

3/4 can be thought of as three sets of two beats with three points of emphasis:
1 & 2 & 3 &

while 6/8 can be thought of as two sets of three beats with two points of emphasis:
1 2 3 4 5 6

I guess a lot of this is down to personal interpretation but Dafunkydrummer's beat feels more like 3/4 than 6/8 to me. In some of the measures there is no hit (so no emphasis) on the 4 at all and the hi-hat is following the 3/4 offbeat but other measures have a triplet feel to them, even though I think they're they're also played as 3/4? The cymbals at the end definitely have a 6/8 feel though.

I'd be interested to know what other drummers think, is Dfd switching between time signatures or is something else going on? Am I just misinterpreting it?

Edited by ChrisB on July 02 2012 04:49
posted on #2
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About 5057, myself was feeling it just by ear but 6-8, 3-4, 6-4, all could be good for jam on this one by Dafunky 5055, feeling question...
posted on #3
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Which session number? 5055?

I'll show it to Felix to see what he thinks.

He plays at least one song with one of the bands he plays in (Eugene Huggins Blues Band) that is in 6/8. They play "Fool's Paradise".

OKAY He says 5055 is 6/8. I asked him why it's not 3/4. He counted along in 3/4 and said yeah it could work but the more natural feel is 6/8. It just works better.

Edited by JanSimone on July 02 2012 07:15
posted on #4
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i agree with felix and the 6/8

keep on Jammin'
posted on #5
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Hey Chris,

I'm a drummer so let me see if I can answer your question for you....nope, got no clue. :| I was told 3/4 and 6/8 were the same thing. Maybe there are subtle differences like the ones you mentioned. I don't know. But, I'm learning something from your post so thanks for posting.

Layin' down the beats like a novice
posted on #6
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It's a "feel" thing more than a counting thing I think, if that makes sense? Happy Birthday is in 3/4, Humpty Dumpty is in 6/8, same number of notes per measure (three crotchets or six quavers) but a different number of "pulses" (I don't know the proper expression). Happy Birthday has three pulses per measure, Humpty Dumpty has two.

This guy does a better job of explaining it than I do:[youtube]AddwD9NEKok[/youtube]
posted on #7
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posted on #8
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Hey ChrisB,

I did a little digging. This explanation makes sense. Check it out...

6/8 is always* (yes always) split into two groups of 3 8th notes. 3/4 is always split into 3 groups of two eighth notes. So in 6/8 you have two beat divisions which you usually can tell by a backbeat on the fourth note. 3/4 has three groupings so the usual backbeat lands on the third beat. It's about the strength of each of the beats in the music. The placement of downbeats and upbeats (non-strong beats) determine meter.

*Theory stuff justifying my absolute statement above*
Time signatures are divided into two main categories; simple and compound. The definition of simple meter is a time signature that divides the beat into two even parts. Compound meter is a time signature that divides into three or more parts. So simple meter includes things like 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 2/2, ect. This is because each of the beats in those time signatures can be divided into two even parts. In the case of all of them besides 2/2, two eighth notes. These time signatures aren't divided into threes even when they can (for example 3/4) because the top number explicitly states there are a certain number of beats in the measure. Compound time works a bit different. Compound time can include things like 6/8, 9/8, 5/8 (because compound meters also include uneven meters) and so on. If you read the time signature literally you would have 6 beats in each measure for 6/8 and in really slow classical music you see that every once in awhile. However the more useful practice is dividing the measures into larger beats (like two beats of three in 6/8) to make it easier to count. Because all the simple meters literally read out what they say, the compound meters are divided into groups of three so musicians can easily discern where the downbeats and upbeats should be in the music. Thus, things in 6/8 are always divided into two parts and things in 3/4 in three parts.
Layin' down the beats like a novice
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