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  1. #1
    Official BHUZzer nefabit's Avatar
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    Help with counting! Especially 9/8 & 6/8!

    Hi everyone!
    I really want to figure out how the heck to count out funky time signatures! Especially chiftitelli and masmoudi and things like that . . .
    If I understand correctly, the time signature marks represent the beats in a measure, and the value of the notes so 4/8 time is 4 beats in a bar . . and the bottom number represents the note value. I understand what that means well enough to count basic 4/8 time . . . but how the heck do I count out 2/4, 3/4, 6/8, 9/8???
    Please explain in laymans terms, I'm not trained in classical music unfortunately.
    I think it's funny that I can play the tabla relatively well, but I don't know how to count it out lol. Just in dum tek tekatek dum teka tek lol.
    Thank you in advance to anyone who can help me!!! ^_^ I'm on a mission to really understand middle eastern music and I figure I'd start with the basics lol.

    Nefabit


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer dunyah's Avatar
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    Re: Help with counting! Especially 9/8 & 6/8!

    You don't really have to worry about the bottom number so much, unless you are reading musical notation. For your purposes it doesn't much matter if the bottom number is 8 or 4. So, just concentrate on the top number. You have to find the downbeat, or the 1 and count from there.

    Here is one example of a slow 9/8: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/americanistan2
    Click on the song "Dere." The sample fades in, but it does start on the 1. And when the singer sings the word "zaman" she starts on the 1. Since you are a drummer, listen for the beats played by the tar drum - Dum Dum Dum Tek Tek. The count of 9 can be broken down like this: 1,2 on the first Dum. 3, 4 on the second Dum. 5,6 on the third Dum, 7 and 8 on the Teks and a pause on the 9th count. Folk dancers count this as Long Long Long Short Short (pause). Drummers sometimes count it as 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3 (with a rest or pause on the last beat in this iteration of 9/8). Man it's hard to put this stuff into words. I hope this is making some sense.

    The song Samar on that same CD is 6/8. Listen for the heaviest beat, that is the One. Then just count 1-2-3-4-5-6. This one is an "smooth" 6/8, as opposed to the one I call the "choppy" 6/8, which we have on another track. When I teach drum students the smooth 6/8, I teach is as Dum Dum ka Tek Tek ka - a double Dum, but the accent is on the first one. All the strokes are even after that, just like you were counting to six.

    More about the choppy 6/8 later, but it's track 14, "Moroccan Trance Fusion," on the same CD. You can listen to it. I have to go do something now but will post again later.
    Last edited by dunyah; 11-27-2010 at 11:43 PM. Reason: clarify


  3. #3
    Ultimate BHUZzer steffib's Avatar
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    Re: Help with counting! Especially 9/8 & 6/8!

    Hm, Artemis' zills CD has a booklet that very well explains multiple, different ways of approaching rhythms. That may be especially useful for you, since you mention that you drum, i.e., chances are that you have a way of approaching the problem internalized already, and mapping that on other methods is likely to help you a lot.


  4. #4
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Help with counting! Especially 9/8 & 6/8!

    In traditional musical counting, the top number of the time signature tells you how many "counts" there are in a measure.
    2/4: 1 2
    3/4: 1 2 3
    4/4: 1 2 3 4
    6/8: 1 2 3 4 5 6
    9/8: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

    The rest of the process for understanding a time signature works sort of like fractions in math. "2/4" equals a half, and a half is equal to two quarters, or two quarter notes (the "4" in the bottom of the time signature). A half is also equal to four eighths, so a full 2/4 measure might have four eighth notes to it instead of two quarter notes...or maybe an eighth note followed by a quarter note and an eighth-value rest...or two eighth notes and four sixteenth notes... (any combination as long as the values add up to 0.5).

    If we have more than two quarter notes in a measure because we have smaller-valued notes, and we want to count "1, 2", we need something else to say on those other two counts. Musicians have naming conventions for these other values.
    2/4: 1 2 (two quarter notes)
    2/4: 1 and 2 and (four eight notes)
    2/4: 1 ee and ah 2 ee and ah (eight sixteenth notes)

    Sometimes dancers don't count with the musical system. Maybe instead of counting four measures of 2/4 as "1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2," they might say "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8" or "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" or "1 2 2 2 3 2 4 2." In the Salimpour system, they might say something like "1 1 1 2 3," restarting the count in the middle or across multiple measures whenever there is a rest. The musical notation system is much more consistent than the assortment of ways that dancers sometimes count, which is why going between systems can be confusing at first.

    Have you looked into taking an adult enrichment class that taught how to read music? Maybe taking an adult piano class might be useful?


  5. #5
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Help with counting! Especially 9/8 & 6/8!

    When I was having drum lessons my teacher gave me a fantastic tip re 9/8 - count it as 1234 and a. It works, especially when the 9/8 is fast!

    6/8 to me is just like 3/4 - it's a waltz, there are just twice as many 123s per bar. When dancing it really doesn't matter IMO if you count 123 or 123/456, so long as you catch that heavier beat on the 1 (or the 1 and 4. In 6/8 it should be that the heaviest beat is the 1 but the 4 also has more weight). Personally I find any triple time pretty obvious as it's like a waltz and we're used to those... things like 9/8 trip me up (quite literally ha) much more.


  6. #6
    Official BHUZzer nefabit's Avatar
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    Re: Help with counting! Especially 9/8 & 6/8!

    Wow thank you for the help everyone!!
    This has already helped me a great deal . . . I'll need to re-read a few times in order to absorb it all, but I think my brain has wrapped around the idea much more.
    I'll probably have to come back on with more specialized commentary and a few questions when I have more time.
    Thanks againnnnn everyone! :D


  7. #7
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: Help with counting! Especially 9/8 & 6/8!

    I come from the classical music side of the tracks, which has its own challenges :) For reasons that are not yet clear to me, I decided to post my amateur musings on learning to discern and count non-western rhythms. I think it was mostly to remember some interesting teachers and events. Anyway, the musings might be of use to you.
    Here's the link: Diagramming-the-Swing.

    I still remember my first close encounters with a karshilama (9/8 in Irish is a different kettle of fish!). I spent hours working out the rhythm for a piece of music I heard and announced to our dance teacher that it was 17/4. She very gently informed me that it was a 9/8. If she was disheartened, she didn't mention it :)
    Last edited by maurazebra; 11-30-2010 at 07:09 AM.


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