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Old December 19th, 2010, 10:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
guitarguru777
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The Official Music Theory Thread

Here is a list of all the posts discussing the topic of music theory / songwriting / guitar playing


*Time Signatures and How to count odd time


* http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/p...les-modes.html


Music Theory & Modes - The Basics

Applying music theory to song writing.

This is a very indepth subject but I am going to break it down to its core elements as it comes to song writing and the guitar in general. Music Theory is probably the monst important thing you can learn as a musician. The ability to use expanded chords and voiceings in your songwriting can add depth and dimension to even the simplest of riffs.

Part 1: The Theory Of Music:

All western music is based off of the 12 Note Chromatic Scale:
C-C#/Db-D-D#/Eb-E-F-F#/Gb-G-G#/Ab-A-A#/Bb-B

The foundation for most western music is based off of the C Major Scale. The C Major scale is the only Major Scale which contains no flats or sharps. Everyone knows the C Major scale, if you sing Do, Re, Mi .... Thats the C Major scale.

The notes of the C Major Scale are C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

We are going to use the C major Scale as the base of this lesson.

Part 2: Building Chords:

To put it in its most simple form Major chords are made up of the Root 3rd and 5th of any major scale. So if we use the C Major Scale as the base of this we end up with the notes C - E - G. If we play the 3 of these notes together as a chord you get a C Major Triad.
Minor Chords are built using Root flat3rd and 5th of the Major Scale. So if we use C Major as a reference we get C - Eb - G. If we play the 3 of these notes together as a chord you get a C minor Triad

Chord building and knowing how chords work is invaluable for a guitarist / songwriter. It allows you to build and create chord progressions, arpeggios, and give you the tools to create different moods and tensions when soloing over a chord progression by using Modes (more on modes later)

To put this into practice and songwriting in a metal context, one thing you can do is have the Guitar player just playing standard power chords (root and 5th) and you can have a clean guitar playing the Triads or the "tension" below it. The tension is what gives a chord its "color" wether its Major minor or diminished, tension notes are your 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th.

So guitar one would play C5 (C and G) and the clean guitar would play a C Major Triad over it. This would give you a very happy sounding riff. Alternately you can do the same with Minor chords. You can have one guitar play C5 and you can have the other guitar playing a C Minor Triad.
So to put it simple have the main guitar play a Power Chord and have another guitar play the tension on top of it to give the riff its color or mood.

Example:
Guitar one plays C5 (C and G) and guitar 2 plays Eb, and G, the Eb of guitar 2 gives the chord its minor characteristic. Guitar 2 could even play Eb and C and you would still get the minor tonality. Experiment with different chords and see what sounds best to you.

a.) Using octaves to your advantage:

An octave is 2 notes that are separated by 12 semi tones (half steps). For example, playe a C on your A string (3th Fret) then play an A on your G String (5th Fret) these notes are exactly 1 octave apart.

You can use these octaves to your advantage to make a riff more interesting. So lets take that same C5 chord we played earlier and have the 2nd guitar play a slowly arpegiated chord using C E G one octave higher. This can add some depth to a simple riff.

b.) Chord Harmony

Using chord harmony is another way to make a riff cool. Say we have 2 guitars, Guitar one plays a C Major Chord in the 3rd position (your basic C major chord). The 2nd guitar can play an A Minor chord over that and harmonize the part using music theory!
How is this possible?
Well this gets into the deepest part of music theory. Scales and Modes

Part 3: Scales and Modes

The easiest explination I can give you of modes is they are scales that are built from different parts of the Major (or minor sometimes) scale. This can get very confusing so I am going to build you a small chart so you can see how it works.

The modes follow a specific order: This order NEVER changes

Ionian (Major)
Dorian (Minor)
Phrygian (Minor)
Lydian (Major)
Mixolydian (Major)
Aeolian (Minor)
Locrian (Diminshed)

If we apply each note of the major scale to each of the modes based in C we get.

C Ionian (Major scale)
D Dorian (Minor)
E Phrygian (Minor)
F Lydian (Major)
G Mixolydian (Major)
A Aeolian (Minor Scale)
B Locrian (Diminished)

Each note also get asigned a "degree" in the scale. This is very useful for chord progressions. ir would look similar to this.

C - 1 (Root)
D - 2 (2nd)
E - 3 (3rd)
F - 4 (4th)
G - 5 (5th)
A - 6 (6th)
B - 7 (7th)

So lets put it all together:
Ionian (Major) - C - 1
Dorian (Minor) - D - 2
Phrygian (Minor) - E - 3
Lydian (Major) - F - 4
Mixolydian (Major) - G - 5
Aeolian (Minor) - A - 6
Locrian (Diminished) - B - 7

So based on this we can build chord progressions based within the key.

Lets use a ii-V-I (2 - 5 - 1) progression for this example.

So if we take the 2 chord (D minor) the 5 Chord (G major) and the 1 Chord (the C Major) and play them in succession we get a ii - V - I chord progression. If we expand on this into soloing over this progression, you can play D Dorian over the D minor chord, G Mixolydian, over the G Major Chord, and C Ionian, over the C major chord

There are a million other options but for now to keep this "SIMPLE" we will just name those.

But how do you know what a D Dorian or a F Lydian Scale is?

That my friends is the most SIMPLE part of Music Theory. If you know the notes of the Major Scale you know ALL of your modes. The easiest explination is a Mode is a Scale staring on a Degree in a Major scale and continuing that scale through its octave. CONFUSING I KNOW, but onece you SEE it you will understand. Look at the example below:

C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C ( C - Ionian Mode )
D - E - F - G - A - B - C - D (D - Dorian Mode )
E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E (E - Phrygian Mode )
F - G - A - B - C - D - E - F ( F - Lydian Mode )
G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G ( G - Mixolydian Mode)
A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A (A - Aeolian Mode)
B - C - D - E - F - G - A - B ( B - Locrian Mode)

See the Pattern? Make Sense?

If you play all the notes of a C Major Scale starting from D and playing through D you get the D - Dorian Mode, If you play all the notes of a C Major Scale from A to A (octave) you get the A - Aeolian Mode.

See how easy that is

Part 4: Expansion into other keys

You can use the above examples starting from any Major scale. Lets use F major for our next example. The note of the F Major Scale are F - G - A - Bb - C - D - E

So that gives us:
Ionian (Major) - F - 1
Dorian (Minor) - G - 2
Phrygian (Minor) - A - 3
Lydian (Major) - Bb - 4
Mixolydian (Major) - C - 5
Aeolian (Minor) - D - 6
Locrian (Diminished) - E- 7

So if we have a progression that is A minor, D minor and F Major what modes should we play over each chord?

(scroll down for answer)











If you said A Phrygian over the A, D Aeolian over the D and F Ionian over the F major then you got it right! THATS MUSIC THEORY!!!

Ok guys I have to get back to work but thats the basics of how music theory works

I will explans on 9th's 11th's and 13ths later .... I just have to get back to work

Quickly, if you keep counting into the next octave the 2nd becomes the 9th and so on ....
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Last edited by guitarguru777 : December 20th, 2010 at 05:57 PM.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 11:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
Loki Laufeyiarson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarguru777 View Post
An octave is 2 notes that are separated by 12 semi tones (half steps). For example, playe a C on your A string (3th Fret) then play an A on your G String (5th Fret) these notes are exactly 1 octave apart.
Sorry to nitpick here, but the 5th fret on my G string is a C. Wich suddenly makes the sentence make sence.

Other then that, great post.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 02:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki Laufeyiarson View Post
Sorry to nitpick here, but the 5th fret on my G string is a C. Wich suddenly makes the sentence make sence.

Other then that, great post.
Yeah my brain broke when I read that part too.

Cool idea though man!
I'm sure this will be mighty useful for people who don't have much of a grasp on theory.
Or even people who need to brush up on the basics again.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 04:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by guitarguru777 View Post

Part 4: Expansion into other keys

You can use the above examples starting from any Major scale. Lets use F major for our next example. The note of the F Major Scale are F - G - A - Bb - C - D - E

So that gives us:
Ionian (Major) - F - 1
Dorian (Minor) - G - 2
Phrygian (Minor) - A - 3
Lydian (Major) - Bb - 4
Mixolydian (Major) - C - 5
Aeolian (Minor) - D - 6
Locrian (Diminished) - E- 7

So if we have a progression that is A minor, D minor and F Major what modes should we play over each chord?

(scroll down for answer)

If you said A Phrygian over the A, D Aeolian over the D and F Ionian over the F major then you got it right! THATS MUSIC THEORY!!!
How about A Minor, D Dorian, and F Lydian? Those chords are all part of C maj/ A min just as much as they're part of F major and D minor. Especially if the progression starts with an A min.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 04:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You are still in the key of C Maj,


As for the octave thing, 5th fret on your G string is C ... exactly. 3rd fret on the a and 5th fret on the G are both the note C one octave (12 semi tones) apart
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Old December 19th, 2010, 08:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You are still in the key of C Maj,
That's precisely my point. It also happens to be the relative of A minor which is the starting chord in your progression example.
Perhaps if you had included a chord that contains B flat then F major would be implied but otherwise I believe my suggestion would not only work but sound better.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 01:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks man, I needed a proper explanation of modes. I knew a bit about them (that they are the notes of a particular scale starting on a different root), but this helped me to understand why.

Last edited by Josh M. : December 20th, 2010 at 01:49 AM.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 04:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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a section on time signatures would be nice!
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Old December 20th, 2010, 07:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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http://www.musictheory.net/
Great site for music theory. Includes pitch recognition/fretboard identifikation exercises as well.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 09:34 AM   #10 (permalink)
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(Post is a work in progress... gimme some time to finish :P)

Time signatures are easy if you know how to subdivide the beat.

In all the below examples the quarter notes are in bold.

Quater Notes - 4 notes per measure - 1-2-3-4

Eighth Notes - 8 notes per measure - 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and

Sixteenth Notes - 16 notes per measure 1 - e - and - a - 2 - e - and - a - 3 - e - and - a - 4 - e - and - a

Lets take a standard 4 / 4 time signature.

In a 4 / 4 time signature there are 4 quarter notes per measure. It is counted (Measure 1)1 - 2 - 3 - 4 (Measure 2) 1 - 2 -3 - 4 and so on .. so every 4 beats the measure changes.

If you look at a 6 / 8 time signature there are 6 eighth notes per measure
1 and 2 and 3 and

In 9 / 16 there are 9 sixteenth notes per measure
(Measure 1)1 - e - and - a - 2 - e - and - a - 3 (measure 2) 1 - e - and - a - 2 - e - and - a - 3

So how does all of this break down..

Here is a great video from Mike Portnoy explaining odd time and how he breaks it down into 4 / 4 sections so you can "feel" how it works.

As you listen to the example above follow the bass line, the bass line is playing 16th notes and count each time he hits the strings you will count it .... 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and - 5

Mike then goes to on explain how you can break that down into 2 measures of 4 / 4 with an added 16th note.

Basically 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and - 5 (measure 2) 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and 4 - and - 5


So how does this break down into other time signatures:

Lets look at 7/4

7/4 means there are 7 quarter notes per beat, counted 1-2-3-4-5-6-7

Pink Floyds Money is a perfect example of this:

Here is another set of examples by Portnoy:



And here is an example of a DT song and the NIGHTMARE that Odd time can be... Keep an ear out for how the sub division of the beat (the click) changes from quater notes to eighth notes to 16th notes

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Old December 20th, 2010, 02:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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GuitarGuru:
I have almost finished the first part of my planned guitar theory lessons thread. Given you have re launched your thread and had it stickied should I just tack onto yours or should I start a new thread? I don't want to take over your thread but I don't want mine lost within yours either lol. what do you think?
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Old December 20th, 2010, 03:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'd suggest something like this: http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/p...ests-here.html
Just to keep things organized, easy to find/link threads and each topic gets discussed in a different thread.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 03:28 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Yes thats a great Idea plankis!

Make a new thread then link to it here. i will keep an ongoing list at the top in the OP
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Old December 20th, 2010, 03:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Good idea guys will do.

Cheers.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:05 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Ok I have created a new thread here containing lesson one in a series about how to use scales and modes practically.

http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/p...ml#post9564380

I hope this is what you meant for me to do M8.

Cheers,
Nigel.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:06 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Yup, added your link to the OP
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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarguru777 View Post
If you look at a 6 / 8 time signature there are 6 eighth notes per measure
1 and 2 and 3 and
I'll admit I didn't read the entire thread so forgive me if this has been covered but this example of 6/8 is not correct or perhaps not well explained. 1 and 2 and 3 and looks to me to be straight 3/4 time where 6/8 is very different. In its simplest form 6/8 is dotted crotchets which sounds very different. A perfecty example of this is the Mission Impossible theme*. This is in 6/8 3/4 time. If you subdivide each bar you get the same number of quavers but the timing is very different.

*EDIT: This is wrong! See correction below. (okay, I screwed up)

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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:33 PM   #18 (permalink)
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What you are referring to is the "swing", "groove", or "feel".

3/4 and 6/8 are the same yes, and normally you would notate it as 3/4, its just being used as an example of the eigth note subdivision for that particular portion. I was trying to convey time signatures that were fairly "common" as opposed to getting all crazy like 13 / 8 or 12 / 16 ....lol
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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarguru777 View Post
What you are referring to is the "swing", "groove", or "feel".

3/4 and 6/8 are the same yes, and normally you would notate it as 3/4, its just being used as an example of the eigth note subdivision for that particular portion. I was trying to convey time signatures that were fairly "common" as opposed to getting all crazy like 13 / 8 or 12 / 16 ....lol
No they are not the same and has nothing to do with swing or feel. Take a look at the Bach Cello Suites 1007 for example, the entire 2nd half is in 3/4 then the last movement is in 6/8 (I had this exact conversation with someone recently) the timing is not the same. If you stick strictly to the idiomatic style of Bach then Bach has no swing.

I'm not trying to be a dick here but IMO this is super important in understanding how any time works.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 06:57 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarguru777 View Post
What you are referring to is the "swing", "groove", or "feel".

3/4 and 6/8 are the same yes, and normally you would notate it as 3/4, its just being used as an example of the eigth note subdivision for that particular portion. I was trying to convey time signatures that were fairly "common" as opposed to getting all crazy like 13 / 8 or 12 / 16 ....lol
3/4 and 6/8 are entirely different in how they sound, how they are performed and how they are notated.
Think of 6/8 as two groups of 3,
1 2 3, 4 5 6 - 1 2 3, 4 5 6 etc putting an emphasis on the 1st beat and the 4th beat. This has a distinct 'swing' feel, almost a triplet feel.

3/4 on the other hand is a very straight feel, think of it as 1 group of 3. ala always with me always with you by Joe Satriani.
1 2 3 - 1 2 3 etc putting the emphasis on the 1 only.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 11:09 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Abt and Pickachu are right, the way that the beats are divided in the two time signatures are completely different. 3/4 is also used in waltz so beats 2 and 3 can be accented in this case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abt View Post
A perfecty example of this is the Mission Impossible theme. This is in 6/8 3/4 time. If you subdivide each bar you get the same number of quavers but the timing is very different.
The Mission Impossible Theme is actually in 5/4 with syncopated accents.

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and...
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Old December 21st, 2010, 12:07 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh M. View Post

The Mission Impossible Theme is actually in 5/4 with syncopated accents.

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and...
You're right. I was going through this with a student recently. I've got a bunch of songs that I use to teach time amongst other things, mission impossible theme is one of them. The 3/4 6/8 example I use is "America" from Westside Story. You get one bar of 6/8 then a bar of 3/4.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 10:33 PM   #23 (permalink)
colton
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Since these examples aren't about syncopation, 9/16 is accented incorrectly as well. 6/8 and 9/16 are compound time signatures. So in the case of 6/8, there are two beats per measure and the value that each beat receives is a dotted quarter note. In 9/16, there are three beats per measure and the value that each beat receives is a dotted eighth note. I learned to count 6/8 as 1-la-li-2-la-li because I think it provides a more solid understanding of where the beat actually is. The second beat is on two, so why not say it? This is all pretty straightforward stuff imo.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 08:17 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I'll agree somewhat with 3/4 and 6/8 having a different feel, but 6/8 is more like a double reverse waltz..

Example
3/4 - Waltz
1 - 2 - 3 | 1 - 2 - 3

6/8 - Double Reverse Waltz (I'm Coining A Phrase )
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

Same feel but reverse the accents..

EDIT: This would be a more traditional accent obviously.. as there is no reason you couldn't play straight eighths in either time signature and only accent the 1 which I've done in various metal riffs..
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Last edited by Paulie! : January 6th, 2011 at 08:21 AM.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 10:22 AM   #25 (permalink)
colton
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Your waltz accents are incorrect. The accent should be on the first downbeat of the measure, with the other two being slightly weaker.

Regarding 3/4 and 6/8, their beat types (simple or compound) and meter types (duple, triple, quadruple) are entirely different. 3/4 is an example of simple triple meter. There are three beats per measure, each beat receives the value of a quarter note and divides equally into two eighth notes. 6/8 is an example of compound duple meter. Here we divide the beat into three equal parts, so the note value representing the beat will have to be a dotted value. This is where all the confusion takes place between the two time signatures. Simply put, compound meter tells you the number of divisions of the beat (top #) in a measure and the division of that duration (bottom #). If the number that indicates how many beats there are per measure (the top) is divisible by three, OTHER THAN THREE ITSELF, it is compound. So, 6,9, and 12. Don't worry about anything passed that because it will require a bit more explaining (I don't feel like discussing complex time signatures or borrowed division right now), so let's keep it simple (lol).

Anyway, six divided by three equals two. That means there are two beats per measure in compound duple, not three, four, or six! Next, you have to look at the number that represents the value of each beat per measure (bottom #). However, in compound time, that number is represented as the division of the actual beat note duration. Since there are two beats per measure, and the dotted quarter note gets the beat note, the division of each beat per measure is thee equal eighth notes, hence 6/8. So again, two beats per measure, dotted quarter note gets the beat note, and each dotted quarter is divided into three equal eighth notes.

That's quite different than 3/4 (simple triple).

I think this is enough for now because this was suppose to be a pretty basic explanation in response to all the confusion thus far. An important thing to remember is that a measure of 6/8 in six does not sound like compound duple, it sounds like two measures of 3/8. In true compound duple, the listener will be able to hear two compound beats per measure, not six simple ones. The reverse is also true.

Edit: Btw, this might not matter to most of you, but I'm a performing classical guitarist and there's a certain connotation these time signatures bring to me. There's a reason why composers such as Bartok and Brouwer wrote various study's and pieces that were identical except for the time signature. There's an art to notation that is quite overlooked these days. 6/8 was there to indicated to play the piece faster than one in 6/4. Mixed meter of 2/4 + 3/4 is used to show there should be a strong accent on each downbeat so it doesn't sound like syncopation in 5/4. These are just some basic examples, the list goes on. I just wanted to point out that notation regarding time signatures isn't always arbitrary. Cheers!

Last edited by colton : January 6th, 2011 at 11:40 AM.
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