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Note length timing, beats and counts.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Diesel Kilgore, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. I went out and got me a Hal Leonard book so I can finally learn notes and get some kind of reading ability after playing by tabs and ear all this time.

    I'm well learned in vocal shape notes and song, and the same terminology is used for those note lengths, but of course you can't beat 4 or 2 on a vocal note. The time is going by hand beating. With bass i'm having trouble. I'm wondering if it's the same.

    A 1/4 note gets 1 beat. That I understand.

    A 1/2 note gets 2 beats. A whole note gets 4 beats.

    So my question is, am I plucking the string 2 times for a 1/2, and 4 times for a whole? Or am I plucking one time for each and letting that note ring for 2 beats and 4 beats?

  2. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    To use your words: pluck one time for each and let that note ring for 2 beats and 4 beats
  3. Okay great.

    Thank you.
  4. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Every Hal Leonard book I've seen explains this right in the front.

    But yes, each note you see gets plucked only once. The 'length' of the note is how long you let it ring out for. So in 4/4 time a whole note rings out for 4 beats, a half note for 2 beats, a quarter note for one. Count eighth like this: one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and - the numbers and the 'ands' are all the eighth notes. Sixteenth notes are counted: one - e - and - u - two - e - and - u - three - etc.

    Dotted notes are the value of the note plus a half. So a dotted half note is counted for three beats.

    Your next question is going to be about time signatures. The top number is the number of 'beats' per measure the bottom number is what kind of note counts as one 'beat'. So:

    4/4 = 4 beats per measure, a (put a one over the bottom number) 1/4 or quarter note counts as one beat. ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR

    6/8 = six beats per measure, an 1/8 or eighth note counts as one beat. ONE - 2 - 3 FOUR - 5 - 6

    Make sense?

    Good luck!

  5. t77mackie, the HL book does have it up front, but it was vague about exactly what to do with the notes.

    Yes, the time signatures make sense. Thanks for your counting method. Trying to translate some of my acapella knowledge to bass is a little difficult. With singing I can beat hand time, with bass I can't. Like a 6/8 I would do a 3/4 hand beat, but twice. But now i've gotta do it in my head, which is a bit of a challenge for me.

    I'll get it with some practice, the time signatures I have less of a problem with, reading notes on the lines is the bigger problem. :D
  6. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Well, when just doing it in your head 2x 3/4's will work in 6/8. But instead of saying 1 - 2 - 3 1 - 2 - 3 say One - 2 - 3 FOUR - 5 - 6. The emphasis on the 1 and 4 gives 6/8 a swingy feel.

    It only makes a difference when you're looking at written music - in 3/4 time the quarter note counts as one and in 6/8 an eighth notes counts as one.

    Good luck!
  7. soulman969

    soulman969 SUSPENDED

    Oct 6, 2011
    Englewood, Colorado
    This may help.

    When you count quarter notes in 3/4 you're counting 1-2-3 so in eight notes in 6/8 count 1-and-2 and-3-and. It helps to add that "and" to the count to keep correct meter.
  8. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Don't confuse 3/4 with 6/8.

    6/8 is what is called a Compound Meter. It is understood to have two groups of three -- 1-2-3-4-5-6. The emphasis being on 1 and 4.

    A great example of 6/8 to 3/4 is found in the song America, from Westside Story.

    I found this MIDI file to demonstrate.

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