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Counting 2/8

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pontz, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. pontz


    Oct 31, 2003
    I’ve played in 4/4, 3/4, and 5/4 time sigs. For an audition this week though I have to play a song in 2/8. I had to problem learning the song by ear before I got the chart from the band leader, but when I saw the chart and saw 2/8, it got me wondering, how do you count this? I searched and learned that it means there are two beats to each measure and “the 1/8 note gets the beat.” Unfortunately that only confused the matter. Does that mean, if I tap my foot and count, the first 1/8 is the down beat, the second 1/8 is the upbeat?

    I didn’t have any trouble playing in this measure, but I’d still like to understand it.


  2. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I dunno why someone would use 2/8 for an overall time sig in a piece... I can't think of a situation where 1/4 wouldn't do just as well, or 2/4 if they really insist on 2 equally emphasised beats per bar

    i've used 2/8 in transcription before but usually only as a single bar in a cluster of bars of varying meter (eg 2 bars of 5/8, one of 3/8 followed by a bar of 2/8 etc) ... and then i'd only use it in preference to 1/4 to make it easier for the player to get their head round the continuing 8th note pulse

    they'd have to have a good reason for making it 2/8 rather than 2/4... but I dunno what it could be
  3. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    well, in my opinion there's no difference between 2/8, 1/4, 2/4, 4/4
    or 32/4...

    except it lokes different when it's written down, i could change something played in 4/4 to 2/4 and there would be no difference at
  4. pontz


    Oct 31, 2003
    Thats how I've always felt too.

  5. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    There is in fact a difference between 2 and 4. 2 generally has a strong downbeat, weak upbeat. 4 has a strong downbeat, weak upbeat, semi-strong downbeat, weak up beat. Not quite the same as two. Often the difference between the 1 and 3 gets lost in a lot of songs and they could be written in 2 though.

    As for 2/4 vs 2/8 the difference is probably convinence when scoring the peice for whatever reason

    As for counting it would be:

    "One, two, One, two, One, two..." assuming you are accenting the downbeat normally.
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I think simple duple time, two non-dotted beats to the bar, is felt like a march, like said above, one two, one two.

    The difference between these meters is that at the same tempo on the crochet, 2/8 is twice as fast as 2/4, which is twice as fast as 2/2.
    So, I guess they exist mainly for that reason... for the option to use shorter bars, or change the speed of the music without changing the written tempo, for example?

    I cant think of an example I'm 100% happy with actually, but one would certainly help. I'm guessing a bit I must admit! :)