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3/4 timing what to do?

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by fuzzy beard, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. What do you play when they do a song in 3/4 time? Standard root 5th doesnt fit.
  2. grumpyfunk


    Mar 26, 2012
    Boston, Ma
    How about R/5/5, that'll be your standard waltz.
  3. Banging head on wall should have been able to figure that one out. Thank you!
  4. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    It'd fit if you saved the 5 for beat three.
  5. Yeah, with 3/4 time I most often don't play anything on the 2 beat. Always on the 1, infrequently on the 2, and occasionally on the 3 (especially as an approach note to the next 1.)
  6. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    It fits, its just all about the one:
    ll D / / l A / / l D / / l A / / l G / / l D / / l G / / l D / / l
  7. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    If you want to maintain what would be a "2 feel" if the song were in 4, you can do root, rest, 5th as people have said. If you want a moving "4 feel", try root, 5th above, 4th below. The 4th below is the same note as the 5th above, an octave lower.

    But - all of this provides no chordal coloring at all. If it's a jazz tune and you need to structure a walking bassline, the answer is more complex.
  8. Depends on tempo, too. A fast waltz would just be in "1". Slower waltz the above suggestions work, although root/V/V will sound like a German oom-pah tuba line. I think root/rest/V or root/rest/(leading tone to next root) could both work well.
  9. Yeah, if I am going to play I/V/V behind a ballad I'll generally play them mezzo-forte/piano/piano, as a cellist in a string quartet might do when playing Viennese waltzes. Much lighter, less oom-pah feel and sound, I think.
  10. Yes, true enough, it is all about execution, isn't it?
  11. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I'd play it as a slow 6/8 that covers two measures with the root on the one and fifth on the four. Let the mandolin handle the other beats.
  12. I've never tried that, but I will now.
  13. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Do you mean ( in 3/4 meter) playing root on one, and fifth on the and of two, in other words playing as two dotted-quarter notes? It seems to me that this would sound good if played infrequently, either just at a chord change or under a single-measure chord, but I wonder if it would be confusing to thump away in 2 for the entire duration of a 3-beat tune. Most of the time when I play tunes in 3, the instrumentation is pretty sparse (often no mandolin or guitar) so this might be different from the experience of those who are playing at a jam with 2-3 mandos and 2-3 guitars strumming/chopping away in 3. I dunno, I will have to try it the next time someone calls a tune in 3, and see if they throw stuff at me after about the second time thru the form. Anyone with more experience want to comment on my concern about it possibly being confusing if done constantly?
  14. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Actually, if I read Ron's post correctly he seems to be saying to play what I would think of as playing the root on one, and the fifth on the next "one" (assuming the chord extends over two or more measures). So, what about going to 2 notes over three for more of a tune than just an occasional transition measure?
  15. That's how I read Ron's post, too: Thinking of chords extending over two measures as being in 6/8, then playing a I on the one beat and a V on the four beat. I'm thinking that might work well in a tune like "Dark as a Dungeon," for example.
  16. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Find recordings of songs that you're interested in in 3/4, played by players that you like and transcribe them. Don't try to engineer music, get it into your ears before you try to put it under your fingers.
  17. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    Some good advise here. Do find so 3/4 or 6/8 songs to model with. I was thinking of doing a favorite 3/4 song thread.... And here it goes!

    PS - Here is a favorite 3/4 song.

  18. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    That's exactly what I meant. Thanks for clarifying.

    The problem I see by playing I-V-V is that you're taking away space from the mandolin. So if you want to stay purely in 3/4, play the I at the start of one measure and the V at the start of the other measure with the mandolin filling in a sort of "snare" type found. This seems to be what I hear in some of the bluegrass that I've experienced.

    Think of the famous Viennese waltzes from Johann Strauss. You really hear the bass on the one with cellos and maybe violas filing in the two and three of each measure (assuming 3/4 time). Same concept, different type of music.
  19. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    To get a better idea of what I mean, listen to Rhonda Vincent's "Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill" or Ricky Skaggs' "Mother's Only Sleeping".
  20. Matthijs


    Jul 3, 2006
    Most of the time you should leave room for a upbeat IMHO. Interpreting two 3/4's as a 6/8 works, leaving the 2nd beat out and playing the 3d beat (or the last 8th) as leading into the one is another solution. Depends mostly on what other instruments are doing. The specific type of music will guide you towards a solution most of the time. With some more traditional european folk tunes in 3/4 I tend to put more emphasis in constructing a fitting 4 or 8 bar rhytmic pattern, instead of thinking of something I should do every bar. There aren't enough beats in a 3/4 bar to be creative on the scale of one bar alone. :)

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