I got an assignment from school about rhythm and I'd like some clarification as to whether I have this correct or not.

Time signatures with 2, 3, or 4 on top are simple meters.
Time signatures with a multiple of 3 on top is a compound meter.
Time signatures that don't fit either category are asymmetrical meters (ex: 5/8 7/8 etc)

In a compound meter, the bottom note is the pulse and three pulses make up one beat. So 6/8 for example, would have only two beats in it.

In the assignment we were given a time signature and a number of beats. We had to notate (with ties and bar lines) the number of beats indicated while using the lowest amount of notes possible.

Some of the problems:
All notes are tied and I'm not concerned with the lowest number of notes.
9/8 - 4 2/3 beats.
I wrote a dotted half - dotted quarter [bar line] Dotted quarter - quarter note.
Grand total of 14 8th notes.

12/4 - 2 1/3 beats.
I wrote a double dotted whole note.
4 beats per measure, each beat being 3 quarter notes.
Totals 7 quarter notes so 2 1/3 beats.

Is this correct?
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 31, 2010,
Quote by FacetOfChaos
I got an assignment from school about rhythm and I'd like some clarification as to whether I have this correct or not.

Time signatures with 2, 3, or 4 on top are simple meters.
Time signatures with a multiple of 3 on top is a compound meter.
Time signatures that don't fit either category are asymmetrical meters (ex: 5/8 7/8 etc)

In a compound meter, the bottom note is the pulse and three pulses make up one beat. So 6/8 for example, would have only two beats in it.

Yup, yup. Only thing is that Asymmetrical Meters can also be called Additive Meters.

EDIT: Also, things like 3/8 can be argued to be either Compound or Simple. It depends on who you talk to (I mean look at your definitions... they contradict each other, so you can see where the confusion lies).

In the assignment we were given a time signature and a number of beats. We had to notate (with ties and bar lines) the number of beats indicated while using the lowest amount of notes possible.

Some of the problems:
All notes are tied and I'm not concerned with the lowest number of notes.
9/8 - 4 2/3 beats.
I wrote a dotted half - dotted quarter [bar line] Dotted quarter - quarter note.
Grand total of 14 8th notes.

Correct, if I'm understanding properly.

12/4 - 2 1/3 beats.
I wrote a double dotted whole note.
4 beats per measure, each beat being 3 quarter notes.
Totals 7 quarter notes so 2 1/3 beats.

Is this correct?

GAH: Double edit...

You're right.
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Aug 31, 2010,
since those are both compound meters though, wouldn't you want to differentiate where the pulse falls, despite the directive to use the least amount of notes possible?
Okay, thanks
The packet that explained it all was pretty vague and I only had one example of a completed problem with a compound meter.

Quote by st.stephen
since those are both compound meters though, wouldn't you want to differentiate where the pulse falls, despite the directive to use the least amount of notes possible?

I don't know... My theory teacher didn't when I asked him for help but I should be able to correct/note it if I need to.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 31, 2010,
Quote by st.stephen
since those are both compound meters though, wouldn't you want to differentiate where the pulse falls, despite the directive to use the least amount of notes possible?

Would you fill in the rhythm of a 4/4 meter with two tied half notes instead of a whole note? No. Why? It's unnecessary. The natural pulse doesn't matter if the note is being held over. Especially if there's stuff behind it doing the accents for you. Just tap your foot and you'll be fine.

EDIT: Of course, if you had some weird dotted note fetish you could. Different strokes for different folks (ololol pun intended lololo)
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Aug 31, 2010,
Yeah you got it right, except I'd change up the wording a bit. 6/8 has 6 beats in it (not two), but you group them in threes, and tap your foot on 1 and 4.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Quote by food1010
Yeah you got it right, except I'd change up the wording a bit. 6/8 has 6 beats in it (not two), but you group them in threes, and tap your foot on 1 and 4.

Nu uh. Compound meters are beated on the dotted quarter, NOT the 8th note. It's just easier to subdivide.

Quote by Website
Notice that each beat in 6/8 is a dotted quarter note. In fact, all compound meters will have some dotted note as its beat.

http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/15
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Nu uh. Compound meters are beated on the dotted quarter, NOT the 8th note. It's just easier to subdivide.

It depends. 6/8 is not always compound. Compound vs simple vs asymmetrical vs whatever is as much about application as anything else.

I play mostly classical music, so Ive seen basically every time signature you can imagine, and some you cant (not to be a prick, but 21st century "classical" music is notated in ways that cannot be described in this thread). And while I can safely say that 99% of the time you would be right in saying 6/8 is always compound, there are times when its not. Although I could count those times with my hands. Just because the denominator is 8 doesnt make it compound though. 4/8 is an example that is usually NOT compound for instance
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Nu uh. Compound meters are beated on the dotted quarter, NOT the 8th note. It's just easier to subdivide.
I'm not saying that it isn't subdivided like that. By definition, there are 6 beats in 6/8 and eighth notes are assigned one beat. You don't count it 1 + a 2 + a (that would be eighth note triplets in 2/4), you count it 1 2 3 4 5 6. See how there's still the subdivision, but you're counting all of the beats, except the pulse is only felt on the "on-beats" (1 and 4) as if there were only two beats in the measure.

Sure both ways of looking at it will work, but I think counting all 6 beats makes a lot more sense. Trust me, I'm not just arguing semantics, I do think it makes more sense that way.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Sep 1, 2010,
Quote by food1010
Sure both ways of looking at it will work, but I think counting all 6 beats makes a lot more sense. Trust me, I'm not just arguing semantics, I do think it makes more sense that way.

I understand what you're saying (and I agree with you), but you have to look at context. He/She's taking a Music Theory (or just music) class. Odds are they're studying the common practice period and starting with the basics of Classical Theory (though, dividing theory into "classes" is a bit unnecessary...). In Classical Theory, a Compound Meter is beated "1 & a 2 & a etc.". This is how his/her teacher expects it. I'm pretty sure if he went in and said "It's got 6 beats!" he'd get points off because, in reality, it's not... 6 beats just makes it a ton easier.
He had said to think of it as a fast 9/8 etc. for this worksheet where we'd count it as 1 & a 2 & a, but if it were in a slow tempo we would count it 1 2 3 4 5 6.
and yeah, we're studying classical theory.

Should it always be thought of as 1 & a 2 & a even when it's a slower tempo?
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
Quote by FacetOfChaos
He had said to think of it as a fast 9/8 etc. for this worksheet where we'd count it as 1 & a 2 & a, but if it were in a slow tempo we would count it 1 2 3 4 5 6.
and yeah, we're studying classical theory.

Should it always be thought of as 1 & a 2 & a even when it's a slower tempo?

To be perfectly honest, I agree with Food: thinking of it as 1 & a 2 & 1 is over complicating it (at least for me it is). I always think of it as "1 2 3 4 5 6", but I know, in the back of my mind, that it's really two beats.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
I understand what you're saying (and I agree with you), but you have to look at context. He/She's taking a Music Theory (or just music) class. Odds are they're studying the common practice period and starting with the basics of Classical Theory (though, dividing theory into "classes" is a bit unnecessary...). In Classical Theory, a Compound Meter is beated "1 & a 2 & a etc.". This is how his/her teacher expects it. I'm pretty sure if he went in and said "It's got 6 beats!" he'd get points off because, in reality, it's not... 6 beats just makes it a ton easier.

>_> Every theory teacher I ever had told me to count it as 6 beats