How do you tell 3/4 from 6/8?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by I-Love-Ratm, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. I-Love-Ratm

    I-Love-Ratm Inactive Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2003
    I know.I'm stupid......Help please!!!

    :bassist: :bag:
  2. It's helpful if you put your question in the the body of your post too. :) Otherwise it's a little hard too follow.

    Listen for whether there's a strong accent every three beats or a strong one followed by a medium-strong one three beats later.
  3. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    3/4 = waltz 1-2-3,1-2-3,1-2-3.
    The phrasing and melody will be centered around this rhythm.
    6/8 the melody and phrasing will be associated with this rhythm. 1-2-3-4-5-6,1-2-3-4-5-6,1-2-3-4-5-6.

    To get a feel of the difference, give a hard down beat on the one;

    ONE two three ONE two three ONE two three

    ONE two three four five six ONE two three four five six ONE two three four five six

    hope this helps
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    If you listen to the drums, in most popular 6/8 tunes, the drummer will hit his snare on beat 4. That's what makes them sound different.

    The bassist in each time signature will play the 1. If doubling up in a 6/8, you'll play 1 and 4, so the two time signatures end up being kinda the same. However, it is more... traditional to only play the 1, with a possible pickup note on 6 into the next 1.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    6/8 is actually what they call compound duple - meaning two beats per bar, but the beat is divided into three. So it would look like this:

    ONE two three four five six ONE two three four five six ONE two three four five six
  6. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    Pacman, that is how I originally had it, but thought it would be confusing,(to much like 3/4), so I went with the 1-2-3-4-5-6 cause it seemed more distinct from 3/4.

    So the rhythm is more like a pair of triplets per bar?

    (jazzy,swing sort of feel)

  7. groove100


    Jan 22, 2005
    I agree on Pacman's interpretation on 6/8 ..
    counting that way can give you a strong feel towards beats 1 and 4 of a 6/8. helps other intruments to to know where they at in time (they need to feel that especially guitar players... hehe :bag: )

    And please stop putting "sorry Its a stupid question" or "Im stupid" or any similar phrases in your post.
    No.1 you are not stupid cause you ask questions, you just want to acquire more knowledge towards your playing or music in general. It also helps other players, especially younger ones to not be afraid to ask questions just because they are gonna be labelled as stupid or anything similar.
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Well, yes and no. The rhythm is 2 dotted quarter notes per bar (or a pair of triplets). But it doesn't have to be swing at all - many, many marches are written in 6/8. Lots of straight-eighth celtic music, also.
  9. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    ...and, to a certain extent, the differences between 6/8 and 3/4, 8/8 and 4/4, etc. are just arbitrary, and may just be choosen for notation purposes. Probably the only real way that you can really tell is by whatever the writer chose to call it. Listening to certain parts doesn't neccesarily assure anything, drums could always be syncopating, polyrhythm, etc. It probably shouldn't be very important anyways.
  10. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Actually, they are not arbitrary at all, and are pretty important, and thought out. 3/4 is three beats, 6/8 is 6 beats. Two completely different animals. In 6/8 a quarter note gets two beats, in 3/4 it gets one.
  11. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    For a 6/8 measure, a distinction should be done regarding the tempo. This measure can be thought/measured as a six-beat measure (being each beat an eighth note) or as a two-beat measure (being each beat a dotted quarter note). The first approach is only used for very slow tempi, but for a medium fast-fast piece, the two beat conducting is the most common and practical.
  12. blujax01


    Nov 16, 2005
    For a reference point, most blues 1-4-5 "12 bar grinders" are in 6/8.

    "Swing time" is usually 4/4 with a dotted 8th. Ala big band.
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Most blues 'grinders' are in 12/8, not 6/8. (you'd only make it through 6 bars of a 12 bar blues if you count it in 6)

    Swing time is written with regular eighth notes, but the notes are felt as eighth note triplets, with the first two notes of the triplet tied.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    If you want to hear the difference - pick an Afro Cuban tune in 6/8 - like Afro Blue at fast tempo and then compare to a 3/4 waltz!! ;)
  15. I'm certain this overlaps with someone else's answer, but the way I think of time signatures is this (bear in mind that I'm actually doing a bachelor's in theory and composition, so I'm definitely coming from more of a classical training perspective):

    Zebra's not really correct - time signature is extremely important, because it gives you a basic pulse to work with. (Of course, when you get into wacky stuff like 7:8 and other asymmetric compound meters, you sort of have to define the pulse yourself when you're writing the tune - this is not the point, though.)

    The basic pulse of 3:4 goes like this:

    1 2 3 1 2 3 etc.

    You can, in fact, alter this pulse using accents, it's not a fixed thing. This is just the natural feel of 3:4 time, and it's the framework from which you can depart in order to change the feel.

    6:8, on the other hand, has this pulse:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 etc.

    That's a strong pulse on beat 1 and a weak one on beat 4. Very rarely do you count all 6 beats as individual pulses - you'd use 6:4 for that instead.

    I hope this helps someone out.
  16. blujax01


    Nov 16, 2005

    YIKES!!! :eek:

    You are correct. I'll shut up now...
  17. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Something you might want to check out is the song "America" from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. The meter in this song alternates from 6/8 to 3/4 every other measure and (if performed correctly) has a different feel and subdivision in every measure. Very interesting feel.

    In the 6/8 bars you have a subdivision of 2, so that it feels like two eight note triplets... then in the 3/4 bars the subdivision is in 3, so you have 3 beats, each divided in 2 eight notes.

    I've played this show 3 times and each time the musicians in the pit orchestra that were new to the song had a devil of time until they got on to the feel. The performers on stage have to sing and dance to this, and they NEVER have a problem... thus, one begins to ponder just what reading these rhythms will do to the conscience mind.
  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    GobyWan - I think 6/8 should be counted 1 2 3 2 2 3, to indicate that there are two dotted crochets in the bar, rather than 6 quavers.

    One bar of 6/8 will sound the same as two bars of 3/4 except twice as fast at the same tempo on the crochet.
  19. Firstly - British musical notation is silly.

    Secondly - it doesn't sound like 2 bars of 3/4, because the accent on the 4th beat of the bar is not as strong as the accent on the first beat. It wouldn't make any sense to use the time signature if it were functionally identical to 2 bars of very fast 3/4.

    Your analysis of the counting, on the other hand, is fine, I've heard conductors and teachers say it that way as well as the other.
  20. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004