Playing in Triple meters

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by thumbtrap, Jul 28, 2003.

  1. thumbtrap


    Jun 26, 2003
    Help. I'll admit, I'm a plank player, a child of the rock n roll generation. I ask this question here because nobody else on the BG forum seems to have ever played in 3/6/ or 9 either.

    I'm playing BG at church, and a ton of hymns are in 3, 6 or 9. I'm having trouble counting in odd meters. Oh, all the beats are there, but I end up lapsing from 3/4 into 4/4-2/4, etc.. The feel changes.

    I have a metronome. I'm practicing with it, it helps but what I want to know is - are there any secrets to practicing odd meters?

    With even meters - if I'm having a lot of trouble with a piece, sometime's I'll walk it (I mean, pick up feet and shift weight so that if you get off, you fall down flat on the floor - not a traditional "walking" bass line.) But this doesn't work (for me) with odd meters - in fact it tends to make things worse.

    I don't dance, and certainly can't waltz (how do you waltz with a bass anyway?) Are there any secrets or tricks to make my practicing more effective?
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"

    And that explains the basis of your predicament . . . you're asking about music with no backbeat!

    Not to be snotty, but in many parts of the musical world "odd meter" means "ya cain't dance to it" -- we're talking five, seven or eleven.

    It's no secret. As with so many other things in life, the solution is familiarization to the point of integration -- i.e., "The first 200 are the toughest!" Some suggestions:

    a) Listen and practice along with great music in 3/4. If you want suggestions, speak up and I'm sure folks will chime in.

    b) You say you're practicing with a metronome; great. Try setting it to only play on beat "one" of your 3/4 bar. Then only on beat "two" of your 3/4 bar.

    c) 6/8 has three quarter notes per bar, but the composer's decision to cast the melody as 6/8 rather than 3/4 reflects a desire for you to feel it as TWO groups of three eighth notes. That's right -- two -- you're right back to walking, backbeats, home territory.

    Keep at it, TT. Really grooving in odd meters is hard even for very experienced players -- it's a skill which requires development. It sounds like you are very close to a substantial musical breakthrough.
  3. thumbtrap


    Jun 26, 2003
    Right now my metronome has a few quirks which I think aggrevate this. It accentuates the one, but with a higher pitch than all other beats in the measure - AND - you can't turn it off. It feels backwards of what it should be. I 'd like to find me a good tap metronome anyway.

    And I meant odd in the mathmatical sense, as in not divisible by two, which is what odd means in all other parts of the world. If you meant "unusual" you coulda just called it "wierd meter" or something :D

  4. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    What I do is to download MIDI songs that are in the rhythm that I want to practice, remove everything but the drums and just work at it. Standard metronome just can't hack it for me for 7/8 or 9/8 or whatever.
  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    All a matter of perception. If you shift your focus, it could be accentuating the "2" or "4" and helping your groove.

    And 5, 7 etc. aren't weird. They just take some getting used to.
  6. I once studied with a teacher who had my clap rhythms on pieces I had trouble with. Try to understand or feel the rhythm without your insrument first then worry about the notes.
    It worked for me.
    P.S. use the metronome in the way Sam recommended when claping.
  7. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    I play at church and I looooove triple meters. Even a hack like me can find the one (although I need both hands). ;)

    Mr. Samuel is right on the money (duh). Unlike 4/4, in 3/4 the one is HUGE. It's ONE two three, ONE two three. Fast 3/4 is conducted in one, with a big, fat downbeat. In 6/8, it's ONE two three FOUR five six, most often conducted in two. In 3/4, if the tempo is faster than 120 bpm, you'll often see the tempo marking as "Dotted half = XX bpm." 6/8 is almost always marked "Dotted quarter = XX bpm." In 3/4, set your metronome to click only on the ONE, and feel the two and three, and in 6/8 set it to click on ONE and FOUR. You can't help but find the downbeat that way. :)