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#2229588 - 02/11/14 12:28 PM 12/8 time
ShannonG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/14
Posts: 135
Loc: Canada
Can I just say "Aaaarrrrrrgggghhh!" It's just basic math but do I ever struggle! Any tips or tricks out there for playing a piece with 12/8 time?
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#2229617 - 02/11/14 01:02 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: ShannonG]
Pathbreaker Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1118
Loc: Massachusetts
I like answering these not because I know very much but because I usually learn something by thinking about it.

Normally you will have 4 beats to a measure where one beat is a quarter note. Normal is why it is also referred to as C or "common" time a.k.a. 4/4(hope I'm not making that up). Four quarter notes per measure. I like to look at it as the bottom note in the time signature is the denominator in a fraction. 4/4 = 4 1/4 notes or 4 * 1/4 = 4/4. For 12/8 you have 12 1/8 notes or 12 * 1/8 = 12/8. You literally have 12 8th notes per measure. You can always simplify to 6/4 or 3/2 (3 half notes). But it's always easiest to count your beats in either quarters or 8ths (it is for me anyways).

For actually playing that 12/8 time signature you will want to remember that the rhythm can be felt in threes (3/4, 6/4, 9/8, 12/8). In other words you can break up the measure into groups of three rather than 2 or 4. Seeing it as 6/4 makes this easier because it's two groups of 3 quarter notes per measure. It is the double of 3/4 time. To simplify just see it as a twice as long measure in 3/4 time.

Does this make any sense? Try wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_signature

According to wiki, 12/8 should be considered a compound time signature:
Quote:
In compound meter, subdivisions of the main beat (the upper number) split into three, not two, equal parts, so that a dotted note (half again longer than a regular note) becomes the beat unit. Compound time signatures are named as if they were simple time signatures, in which the one-third part of the beat unit is the beat, so the top number is commonly 6, 9 or 12 (multiples of 3). The lower number is most commonly an 8 (an eighth-note): as in 9/8 or 12/8.


By dotted note they mean that you could see 12/8 as 4 dotted quarter notes (each dotted quarter being equal to 3 8th notes, 4*3=12). But who wants to count like that, seems like a lot of work. I would just look at it as [1,2,3, 1,2,3] or [1 and 2 and 3 and, 1 and 2 and 3 and] if doing 8th notes or however you count.

Not sure of my accuracy here but this is how I would approach it.

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#2229659 - 02/11/14 02:04 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: ShannonG]
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 631
Loc: Louisiana
Originally Posted By: ShannonG
Can I just say "Aaaarrrrrrgggghhh!" It's just basic math but do I ever struggle! Any tips or tricks out there for playing a piece with 12/8 time?



Go to 0.52 seconds on the clock:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi0cLdJCgTA
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#2229675 - 02/11/14 02:27 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: ShannonG]
TheodorN Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1213
Loc: Skåne, Sweden
Ah, the Blueberry Hill rhythm. A triple eight feel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG5ot_KOGQY
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#2229682 - 02/11/14 02:34 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: ShannonG]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11810
Loc: Canada
12/8 often means 4 beats in 3 triplets. 3 + 3 + 3 + 3. Three Eighths = 1 beat (triplets)

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#2229695 - 02/11/14 03:03 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: keystring]
Pathbreaker Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1118
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: keystring
12/8 often means 4 beats in 3 triplets. 3 + 3 + 3 + 3. Three Eighths = 1 beat (triplets)


That makes much more sense. And with the video to hear it I think that's very helpful.

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#2229827 - 02/11/14 05:59 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: ShannonG]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3804
Loc: Northern England.
12-8 is always triplets to my knowledge. Otherwise it would be written in a different time. Like 6-4 or 3-2.
It gives an indication for the feel of the music.
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#2229837 - 02/11/14 06:11 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: ShannonG]
ShannonG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/14
Posts: 135
Loc: Canada
Thank you everyone for your help. I also listened to the studio recording of the song (Turn Me On by Norah Jones)and the drum has a distinctive 1-2-3 beat that I found helpful.
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How did I end up with 3 pianos? Starting to think I may need a 12 step program...

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#2230709 - 02/12/14 10:50 PM Re: 12/8 time [Re: ShannonG]
Leon Harrell Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Urbana
Hi ShannonG

The problem you are experiencing is the misunderstanding of compound meter vs simple meter.

12/8 is a compound meter. This means that the beat unit (dotted Quarter note) should be counted as one beat and the subdivision level (the eight note) should be counted like 1-La-Li, 2-La-Li, 3-La-Li, 4-La-Li.

This counting system is called the Eastman Counting System.
1]

Let me know if you need more help.

Understanding compound meter will clarify how all these common compound meters work: 6/4, 6/8, 9/4, 9/8, 9/16, 12/8


Good luck on your musical journey,

-Leon


Edited by casinitaly (02/22/14 06:44 AM)
Edit Reason: removed personal advertising
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