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-   -   What is 6/8 and why does it exist? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=528724)

TBman 11-19-2018 12:06 PM

What is 6/8 and why does it exist?
 
My brain is currently wired to 4/4 time it would seem. My brain also likes to resolve melodies within 2 to 4 bars which is stifling a lot of creativity on my part. Why are there different time signatures, other than ease of notating?

ljguitar 11-19-2018 12:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TBman (Post 5894746)
My brain is currently wired to 4/4 time it would seem. My brain also likes to resolve melodies within 2 to 4 bars which is stifling a lot of creativity on my part. Why are there different time signatures, other than ease of notating?

Hi Barry

Though it can be 'other-than-this' 6/8 time is usually played like 2/4 dived into triplets (rather than 2/4 played with eighth notes in duplet).

In other words it sub-groups the beats into threes rather than twos or fours.

And 12/8 is similar in that it's usually played like 4/4 subdivided into triplets.



packmule 11-19-2018 12:31 PM

6/8 would be the time signature used for playing jigs in Irish traditional music. A jig of course is a dance - novices to ITM sometimes play jigs in 4/4 time, not realizing that they're nullifying the whole point of a jig being a jig!

1neeto 11-19-2018 12:50 PM

6/8 is one of those time signatures that didnít make sense to me for a long time. Since a 6/8 piece can be played in 3/4 and sound exactly the same.

Doug Young 11-19-2018 01:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TBman (Post 5894746)
Why are there different time signatures, other than ease of notating?

It's not just notating, it has to do with the feel, where the pulse is. Simple example, 3/4 is a waltz, think of the Danube Waltz, or Tennessee Waltz, a strong um-pah-pah, while 4/4 is totally different. 5/4 is also different, listen to the sound of "Take Five". It's where the strong and week accents are.

With 6/8, as others have said, it's counted in 2: 1,xx,2xx. 6/8 and 12/8 besides being for jigs, is also the feel of blues (12/8 usually).

As a notational thing, you could write a shuffle blues in 4/4 with everything being triplets, and that'd be the same feel, but 12/8 is easier to read. So some things are related to notation (i.e. communicating with others), but the key is the pulse and feel of each time signature.

There's probably some better demos of this stuff on you tube, but with a quick search, I found this, which seems ok:


philjs 11-19-2018 01:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TBman (Post 5894746)
My brain is currently wired to 4/4 time it would seem. My brain also likes to resolve melodies within 2 to 4 bars which is stifling a lot of creativity on my part. Why are there different time signatures, other than ease of notating?

Hi Barry,

To me the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 is the pulse: 3/4 is odd while 6/8 is even.

In 3/4 you've got an odd count to each bar often, for waltzes anyway, with the accent on the first beat of each measure, ie. | ONE two three | ONE two three | OR it can be counted as | One and Two and Three and | One and Two and Three and | but both give you three distinct beats in each bar.

In 6/8 you get an even count because the bar is divided into two groups of three (rather than three groups of two) usually with the accent on the first beat of each group of three, ie. | One and a Two and a | One and a Two and a | etc. As LJ pointed out, it can often be counted similarly to 2/4 because the accents are simply One Two, One Two, etc.

Hope this helps...

Phil

FwL 11-19-2018 01:11 PM

6/8 comes from before triplet notation was a thing. 2/4 is simple time, 6/8 is compound time for 2/4. Compound time was/is used for writing triplet rhythms.

2/4 = 2 notes per beat = 1 & 2 &

6/8 = 3 notes per beat = 1 & a 2 & a


3/4 = 2 notes per beat = 1 & 2 & 3 &

9/8 = 3 notes per beat = 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a


4/4 = 2 notes per beat = 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

12/8 = 3 notes per beat = 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a


.

stanron 11-19-2018 01:52 PM

I hope that this is not too much boggle;

There are two distinct classes of time signature. They are called simple time and compound time.

In simple time the beats divide into two. 2/4 3/4 4/4 6/4 are examples, as are 2/2 and 3/2. The top number tells you how many beats there are. The bottom number is how the notes are written. In x/8 beats are written as quavers or 1/8th notes, in x/4 beats are written as crotchets or 1/4 notes and in x/2 beats are written as minims or 1/2 notes.

In compound time the beats divide into three. 3/8 6/8 9/9 and 12/8. Divide the top number by three to find how many beats. In all of these a beat is written as a dotted crotchet or dotted 1/4 note.

There are also irregular time signatures where the music does not naturally fall into equal groupings.

rschultz 11-19-2018 02:20 PM

6/8 is possibly my favorite time signature. I used to think 6/8 was the same as 3/4... but it's not as others have said.

rick-slo 11-19-2018 03:56 PM

http://www.brassstages.com/acrobat/68supp.PDF

TBman 11-19-2018 11:09 PM

Thanks everyone, great stuff to review.

1neeto 11-19-2018 11:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 5894937)



Simple and to the point.

Paddy1951 11-20-2018 02:23 AM

I have been involved in IrishTrad music for over twenty years. Guitar is not my main instrument for trad.

I teach the bodhran (the Irish drum) at the Irish Fest School of Music.
I find that it is easier for students to understand 6/8 by use of a phrase rather than counting. The accents are on the one and four. ie.

SEE - the - hi -BER - ni - an

EL- e - gant - EL - e - phant

BOT -tle - of - JA - mes - on

This has worked well for me. Students seem to grasp the feel of this time signature more easily. By repeating any of these phrases out loud or in their heads, the feel or pulse (two) becomes apparent.

As to the purpose... Irish Traditional Music is dance music, first. The Jig being a major part of it.

I hope that helps.

Silly Moustache 11-20-2018 03:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TBman (Post 5894746)
My brain is currently wired to 4/4 time it would seem. My brain also likes to resolve melodies within 2 to 4 bars which is stifling a lot of creativity on my part. Why are there different time signatures, other than ease of notating?

Hi TB man,

6/8 time was my favourite time signature when I was a drummer in R&B bands back in the '60s.

I can't explain it to you like others, as my playing (drums or guitar) has always been instinctive, but here are a couple of examples.

Here a a bland example for a slow blues accompaniment that you can solo over :




Also remember that Percy sledge hit - "When a Man Loves A woman" which is the first song in 6/8 that comes to mind

Here it is :

Note. Here in the UK we have a weekly competition show where "celebs" are taught to dance - called "Strictly Come Dancing" and I believe that in the US there is a version called "Dancing with the Stars".

In both these shows, when they dance a waltz, the bad always plays pop songs in 6/8 (and not 3/4), probably because pop songs ballads don't use 3/4 much now.

See this :

Watch from 2.00 and stop at 3.29 before you get to the sickly parts.

So, the basic ballad 6/8 is like ONE ,2,3, FOUR!,5,6 - ONE, 2,3 FOUR! 5,6,

Often it is more like 1,2,3,FOUR,5,6, etc.

See this ;

(I'd rather Go blind?)



In contrast, to show the difference between 6/8 and 3/4 - here IS a proper 3/4 Waltz :



Here's a drummer (left handed) describing this ....which ...may ....help (?)



Hope that helps - I LOOOOVE 6/8!

JonPR 11-20-2018 04:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1neeto (Post 5894785)
6/8 is one of those time signatures that didn’t make sense to me for a long time. Since a 6/8 piece can be played in 3/4 and sound exactly the same.

Well, it can sometimes sound like a pair of 3/4 bars, and it would be a subtle difference in that case. For two 3/4 bars to be better written as 6/8, there would need to be a clear difference between the downbeats of alternate bars.

Another argument for making pairs of 3/4 bars into single 6/8 bars - in addition to that subtle rhythmic emphasis - would be the harmonic rhythm (rate of chord change). If the chords change every two 3/4 bars (as well as a weaker downbeat on the second of each pair) then 6/8 makes a lot of sense. (In some case, 6/4 would be better, but that's rare.) Harmonic rhythm is often a good way to decide between 6/8 and 12/8.

A single bar of 6/8 can be made to sound like a single bar of 3/4 - and vice versa - by means of cross-rhythm, but normally a piece will be clearly in one or the other for the most part.

Paddy1951 11-20-2018 06:25 AM

Here are a few other Pop/Rock songs in 6/8 that may help you.

Lights- Journey
We Are The Champions- Queen
How Can Yon Mend a Broken Heart - Bee Gees

Dazed and Confused- Led Zeppelin
Norwegian Wood- The Beatles
Deja Vu (beginning) CSN

TBman 11-20-2018 08:23 AM

Thanks again for the great information everyone!

Trevor B. 11-20-2018 11:08 AM

In the illustration below focus on mm.2 & 4 and make sure to use the same tempo for the 1/8th notes in both measures. You'll see it's where the strong pulses (upward arrows above the notes) occur that differentiates the time signatures.


[IMG]https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1467/...0c428aa6e3.jpgScreen Shot 2016-02-11 at 1.59.06 PM by Trevor Burt, on Flickr[/IMG]

Johnny K 11-20-2018 04:03 PM

Listen to Tin Pan Alley, but listen to Chris Layton instead of SRV. Perfect real world song to follow 6/8

(I had no idea either until I started playing drums)

1neeto 11-20-2018 08:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 5895357)
Well, it can sometimes sound like a pair of 3/4 bars, and it would be a subtle difference in that case. For two 3/4 bars to be better written as 6/8, there would need to be a clear difference between the downbeats of alternate bars.

Another argument for making pairs of 3/4 bars into single 6/8 bars - in addition to that subtle rhythmic emphasis - would be the harmonic rhythm (rate of chord change). If the chords change every two 3/4 bars (as well as a weaker downbeat on the second of each pair) then 6/8 makes a lot of sense. (In some case, 6/4 would be better, but that's rare.) Harmonic rhythm is often a good way to decide between 6/8 and 12/8.

A single bar of 6/8 can be made to sound like a single bar of 3/4 - and vice versa - by means of cross-rhythm, but normally a piece will be clearly in one or the other for the most part.



Harmonic rhythm is how I tell them apart or decide if what I came up with is in 3/4 or 6/8. I set the metronome to 6/8 when I recorded this. It felt more natural since it doesnít have the waltzy feel of a 3/4. Donít listen to the whole thing, it still needs a whole lot of work. [emoji15] https://soundcloud.com/1neeto/never-done

JonPR 11-21-2018 04:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1neeto (Post 5896136)
Harmonic rhythm is how I tell them apart or decide if what I came up with is in 3/4 or 6/8. I set the metronome to 6/8 when I recorded this. It felt more natural since it doesn’t have the waltzy feel of a 3/4.

Well, there are several things which make that very clearly 6/8.
1. It's a six-note pattern of notes all the same length, repeated;
2. The 6 notes break into three triplets, 3 ascending from the lowest, 3 descending from the highest, so the first and 4th notes sound like the main marker points;
3. The first note of each pattern is accented, and changes pitch, implying chord changes every 6 notes (harmonic rhythm);
4. Counting each note as a separate beat makes it feel way too fast (so it's not 6/4 or two bars of 3/4);

Thing #3 is what argues against it being 12/8.
Thing #2 is what suggests 6/8 and not 3/4 - but that wouldn't mean you couldn't establish (say) a bass or drum over it which would turn each 6/8 into 3/4 (three pairs of 8ths instead of two triplets).

JonPR 11-21-2018 04:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paddy1951 (Post 5895403)
Here are a few other Pop/Rock songs in 6/8 that may help you.

Lights- Journey
We Are The Champions- Queen
How Can Yon Mend a Broken Heart - Bee Gees

Dazed and Confused- Led Zeppelin
Norwegian Wood- The Beatles
Deja Vu (beginning) CSN

Norwegian Wood is debatable.
I agree with you it's 6/8, but there's actually not a lot of differentiation between the two sets of triplets, and it could easily be written as pairs of 3/4 bars. There are also cross-rhythms within each set of 3, which are common in 3/4 time.

I just googled sheet music for it, and the first four I looked at included two in 12/8, one in 6/8 and one in 3/4!

Anyway, here's a few more in 6/8 (with reasonable confidence!) should anyone want more:

Animals - House of the Rising Sun
Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin
Elvis Presley - I Can't Help Falling in Love With You
Coldplay - Shiver
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metallica - Tuesday's Gone

For 12/8, there's:
Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel
Stevie Wonder - Master Blaster

A debatable one is REM's Everybody Hurts, where the guitar patterns suggest 6/8, but the harmonic rhythm suggests 12/8 (sheet music in both can be found).
I've seen both Hallelujah and Nights in White Satin written in 12/8 occasionally, but their harmonic rhythm strongly suggests 6/8, and the majority of publications have them in 6/8.

IOW, there are often quite valid disagreements about 6/8 and 12/8, depending (apparently) on how different transcribers like to count the beats (in 2 or in 4). It's subjective, therefore, not objective.
In jazz, "Afro-Cuban 6/8" often consists of a clave rhythm over two bars, so that riffs sound like one bar of 12/8. In such cases, 6/8 just makes it easier to read and feel.

1neeto 11-21-2018 05:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 5896348)
Well, there are several things which make that very clearly 6/8.
1. It's a six-note pattern of notes all the same length, repeated;
2. The 6 notes break into three triplets, 3 ascending from the lowest, 3 descending from the highest, so the first and 4th notes sound like the main marker points;
3. The first note of each pattern is accented, and changes pitch, implying chord changes every 6 notes (harmonic rhythm);
4. Counting each note as a separate beat makes it feel way too fast (so it's not 6/4 or two bars of 3/4);

Thing #3 is what argues against it being 12/8.
Thing #2 is what suggests 6/8 and not 3/4 - but that wouldn't mean you couldn't establish (say) a bass or drum over it which would turn each 6/8 into 3/4 (three pairs of 8ths instead of two triplets).



Thanks man you made me understand my own stuff even better. I gotta finish that thing, in fact Iím changing a lot of things...thatís why I named it ďnever doneĒ. [emoji23]

Hereís one song that has baffled me for years because it is notated in 6/8, but the accent every third note says 3/4 all the way.

https://youtu.be/EoqXDPbivFs

JonPR 11-21-2018 06:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1neeto (Post 5896362)
Thanks man you made me understand my own stuff even better. I gotta finish that thing, in fact I’m changing a lot of things...that’s why I named it “never done”. [emoji23]

Here’s one song that has baffled me for years because it is notated in 6/8, but the accent every third note says 3/4 all the way.

https://youtu.be/EoqXDPbivFs

Sounds like 6/8 to me. The bass (and bass drum) is marking the two beats in each bar, while the sidestick is applying a 3/4 cross rhythm.

Check this, for how many cross-rhythms can be applied within a basic 6/8 beat (marked by the foot tap) - mostly pairs of 6/8 forming 12/8 patterns:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2yDN-nN2k0
A lot of African music (naturally) uses various polyrhythms within (what we would count as) a 12/8 groove, and the simpler ones have become part of Cuban music, and from there into jazz and some pop (such as the Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson tracks mentioned).

archerscreek 11-30-2018 12:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny K (Post 5895909)
Listen to Tin Pan Alley, but listen to Chris Layton instead of SRV. Perfect real world song to follow 6/8

(I had no idea either until I started playing drums)

It's always a good day when I come across some SRV. Thanks for the post. Haha.

Frankly, I always thought Chris Layton was an underrated drummer. SRV was an extremely improvisational player and Layton was able to adjust to that style of live playing on the fly. He and Tommy Shannon allowed SRV to be SRV. I was able to see the two of them in Austin with Doyle Bramhall II about ten years ago. Great live musicians.

T1mothy 12-24-2018 06:07 AM


Play from 33:00
My intonation and rhythm teacher sent me this goldberg variation Bach composed to accompany Goldberg during his sleepless nights. It came to me pretty naturally why it is 6/8 and not 3/4. Try to rely on your intuition too. Those ear things we grow on our heads are powerful tools!

Martie 12-30-2018 03:59 PM

It might be worth getting a metronome/app and setting it so the accent lands in groups of three (ONE, two, three, ONE...or ONE, two, three, four, five, six, ONE...etc.) and then playing along, just to wire your brain for the different feel of groups of three and six etc.

Johnny K 12-31-2018 09:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by archerscreek (Post 5904964)
It's always a good day when I come across some SRV. Thanks for the post. Haha.

Frankly, I always thought Chris Layton was an underrated drummer. SRV was an extremely improvisational player and Layton was able to adjust to that style of live playing on the fly. He and Tommy Shannon allowed SRV to be SRV. I was able to see the two of them in Austin with Doyle Bramhall II about ten years ago. Great live musicians.

Speaking of Doyle Brammal, The Arc Angels one off with Double Trouble backing him and Charlie Sexton is a desert island disc for me. Spanish Moon (not to be confused with the song by Little Feat) is fantastic song. Get's my blood flowing whenever I hear it.

Where Chris shines aside from being the GOAT shuffle drummer, is his interpretations of Mitch Mitchell. SRV's Hendrix covers would sound like c^*p if Chris Layton couldn't lay it down like Mitch.

Cypress Knee 01-02-2019 03:38 PM

Irish jigs in 6/8, yeah. For all you flatpickers playing country and or bluegrass in 3/4 time with the Down up down up down up Down up down up down up, strum well,
go find a fast Irish jig in 6/8 and use the Down up Down Down up Down pattern and see what happens to your right hand!

Try to play along with the Swallowtail Jig - Em and D - with DUD DUD in 6/8ths.



CK
PS- clicking on the info button will take you to her sheet music arrangement.

beninma 01-04-2019 10:09 AM

Sleepwalk by Santo & Johnny was the song my teacher used to introduce me to 6/8.

It is a lot easier to feel the difference in accents in person than it is to try and explain it or understand it from a book or the internet.

That waltz feel thing with 3/4.. I think everyone understands that. 6/8 is not that.

Once you get it you can feel it listening to songs and can tell when they're 6/8 vs 3/4. If a song comes on in the background that is 6/8 on the radio or something it will catch my attention at this point.

Norwegian Wood was mentioned.. I agree that one is not real obvious with the feel/accents. I want to hear it as 3/4 when I listen to it.

The other instruments in a mix can make it really obvious. Drummer only accenting 4.. toms on 1-2-3 then snare on 4 then toms on 5-6 and maybe the bass player is accenting 1. That can really telegraph it.


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