# Ternary and binary subdivisions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by matius88, Jul 11, 2013.

1. ### matius88

Jun 25, 2012
Argentina
Hi, im having a lot of doubts about the subdivisions of the Pulse.
For example i cant tell the pulse of a song, but sometimes i cant say if its ternary (3 beats) or binary (2 beats).
first i thought songs with 6/8 12/8 and 9/8 have ternary beats, but for example i look for the sheet of isnt she lovely and its 4/4 and i know that song has a ternary subdivision...

if anyone of you can clarify a method or could bring me some books or online lessons for this thing i will be gratefull.

for example i think this song have ternary subdivisions:
Stevie wonder higher ground

and this one is binary
part time lover stevie wonder.

if you could bring me a some examples of binary and ternary it will be really great for me!

thanks a lot!

2. ### Whousedtoplay

May 18, 2013
TEXAS
Try to figure out your "ternary/binary" beats for this song.

"Dr Zhivago's Train" recorded by the multifaceted Musician/Singer, Robert Palmer on his album "Drive"

P.S. I am a huge fan of Robert Palmer. His album "Drive" was the last one before Robert got on that Zhivago Train and left us forever.

3. ### matius88

Jun 25, 2012
Argentina
i think this song has something like
1-2-3 1-2 1-2-3 1-2
and has ternary beats

4. ### Whousedtoplay

May 18, 2013
TEXAS
Very close.
Do you think the part " 1 - 2" is ternary?

A link to the web-site about the ternary division:

"The master figure of the ternary division"
http://www.daniellaberge.net/music/rhythm/exercises/3-1.html

5. ### matius88

Jun 25, 2012
Argentina
Cool, i think first that
1-2-3 part was ternary and the 1-2 part was binary but i wasnt so sure so i thought you cant change that on a song.
thanks!!.

6. ### mambo4

Jun 9, 2006
Dallas
Isn't She Lovely is a good example of the classic blues 12/8 shuffle that became the Jazz swing feel.
This feel can be notated explicitly as 12/8 or as 4/4 with a 'swing' indication. (i.e., as triplets within a duple meter.)
As Jazz versions of popular 4/4 tunes became standards, it became common to notate things in 4/4 and indicate 'swing ' eight notes.

Wikipedia has examples.

In practice, 'swing' beats can fall many places in between strict binary and ternary subdivisions, depending on the rhythm, tempo, genre , and interpretation.
This sort of rhythmic idea is best explored and understood by example rather than math.

7. ### matius88

Jun 25, 2012
Argentina
in the case of Do i Do stevie wonder its ternary no??

May 18, 2013
TEXAS
9. ### Whousedtoplay

May 18, 2013
TEXAS
I've just have a question about your example of
the "Shuffle Rhythm Notation".

http://www.studybass.com/lessons/rhythm/shuffle-and-swing-rhythms/

"A common marking for shuffle 8th notes is a little equation written at the beginning expressing 2 eighth notes are to be played like a triplet with the first two notes tied. Or, the first two 8th notes of the triplet are written as a quarter note. (See Shuffle Markings diagram.)

10. ### Bainbridge

Oct 28, 2012
Don't tie them. Do a quarter and an eighth note with a bracket and a "3" above.

Why is the tuplet being represented with an 8? That would mean that there are eight of some note value in the space of&#8230; well, we don't know. Usually 6 of the same value. Triplets are a bracket with a 3, duplets are a bracket with a 2, quintuplets are a bracket with a 5, etc.

11. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

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

It's common swing eighth notation. It's much easier to read as 8th notes, and players know how to perform them.

And, in all actuality, the amount of time given to each of the notes varies by tempo (the first note gets longer and longer the slower the tempo gets), which couldn't accurately be notated easily.

12. ### Whousedtoplay

May 18, 2013
TEXAS
I think I have some kind of mental block, but I can't accept the notation of "Shuffle Performed as:" in the example above.

All examples of "shuffle" start with a longer note...

3:2 = long eighth + short eighth, "swing" or "shuffle"
2:1 = triplet quarter note + triplet eighth, triple meter; "medium swing" or "medium shuffle"
3:1 = dotted eighth note + sixteenth note; "hard swing," or "hard shuffle"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuffle_rhythm#Transcription

"Shuffle rhythms are notated in western music as triplets. The first note in the triplet is twice the length of the second note, leaving the impression of an elongated first note and shortened second note. Below is a literal notation of 4 swung pairs of eighth notes. The repetition of swung notes is what makes a shuffle."
http://how-to-play-blues-guitar.com/blues-concepts/blues-shuffle-rhythm/

13. ### Bainbridge

Oct 28, 2012
I get "8th-8th = triplet quarter-triplet 8th", but what is represented on the right hand side of the image is octuplets. There should be "3" where there is "8". In other words, there is a mistake in the notation of the first two "swing" rhythms. Also, that shuffle rhythm should have a triplet feel.

14. ### Fergie Fulton

Nov 22, 2008
Braintree
Retrovibe Artist rota
A few posts getting lost on the symantics of notation, there are various shuffle beats, the notation shown is just one example, as are there swing examples. A players experience will let them make the right (or wrong) choice of how to swing a line.

Ternary and binary is as much about 'implied' rather than any stated notation. Since music is more than a bar long, ternary needs to be implied over the first 'meeting point" between the note number/value.
Even numbers multiplied always make even numbers, odd number multiplied can make even or odd numbers?

An easy example is 4/4,
4/4 multiplied by 3 = 12, so we can consider every 12 beats the point where ternary (odd number) and binary (even number) meet within the meter, so that is three bars to play for the feel..not one

So you can play 3 bars with a binary feel (4/4) or imply 3 bars with a ternary feel.
12/8 would be my choice for say a slow 4/4 blues.
But rather than any number to count, i use phonetics, words or phrases that have the same symbolic feel to what i play.
So rather then 123123123123, my feel is blue purple blue purple blue purple blue purple.
So the phonetics of blue pur-ple has the elements of threes i want to feel.

As mentioned, 12/8 in a slow blues song flows with a ternary feel because the three feel implied divides into the number 8th notes to be used, and over three bars the 8ths meet every 24 beats. 2x12 = 24 as does 3x8 = 24.....and so it goes on with the nuances of sub-division within ternary and binary sub-divisions

Sub-division has nuances, those nuances are how a player feels a count or a beat, not only how it is written, but over a number of bars. The player then applies that feel over all bars therefore over the whole song.
Its the same as being asked to hold back the line by playing behind the beat, its a skill of interpretation, experience and technique, rather than an exact application......its about knowing what is intended...not how it is spelt.

Since most players practice varied and wonderful things, they as a rule practice it with binary feel. Scales, arpeggios, triads, fingerings etc all practiced with a 4/4 feel. This will ingrain a players resistance to learning different meters, when i say resistance i mean that as an internal thing as in "not feeling it", or "not getting it" more than any conscious resistance to learning.

I was taught that once a player has 4/4 ingrained then they need to practice 3/4, once they have that ingrained they are better prepared to handle all time signatures/meters they will encounter as they will in effect be based on those two meters.
How we then learn to sub divide those meters is another matter, it is not a bar to bar skill, it is a skill over many bars, so a sectional skill.
Every song can be sub-divided, the deeper a player looks into a song the more they will understand its feel in sections rather than bars. How many bars make up a section is sub-division.
This is why when learning a song, once you have the notes, play it all the way through, do not stop when you make mistakes
If you continually stop you are breaking that sectional flow so the feel is harder to master, and as such that leads to more problems.
Examine the music, find how many bars make a section for your feel and things become easier to feel rather than count....less to count means more to feel.

15. ### Whousedtoplay

May 18, 2013
TEXAS
I'd like to ask some opinions about three versions of the same song, "Ain't That Just Like A Woman", performed by three different Musicians:

1. Chuck Berry - Ain't That Just Like A Woman

Is it "shuffle" or "swing".

It would help some beginners better understand about it.

Thanks.

16. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
By the way, the real terms are "simple" (two divisions per beat) and "compound" (3 divisions per beat).

17. ### mambo4

Jun 9, 2006
Dallas
that notation I posted came from a random image search.
I believe the "8"s are actually "3"s with bad graphics.
and yes, all X = Y swing "formulas" are only approximations.

18. ### grooooooveSupporting Member

Dec 17, 2008
Long Island, NY
some examples can be a bit ambiguous..

especially if your looking at pop / rock music, sometimes the drummer might be giving you triplets on the hihat making it feel like a compound meter. but, its likely that on that recording the bass, guitar, keys, whatever, are all thinking in a simple meter.

so it could be notated all as 12/8, or as 4/4 with triplets, they're often both correct.