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Topic Options
#985761 - 12/03/08 02:59 PM Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
Hello everyone (again) \:\) , I would like to ask about note durations and counting, well I don't count actually (is that bad?), I can play familiar songs, melodies, I can play simple melodies made of half, quarter and eighth notes (without counting, or sometimes with a metronome), but when all those dotted notes come or tied ones - it's trouble, any suggestions? By the way what I've noticed that oftenly for example there are two sixteenth notes tied instead of an an eighth, or a quarter and and eighth instead of a dotted quarter, why's that? Would it be wrong if I'd be writing my own melody but wouldn't use all those ties (I mean in a place where I can write a simplier note).

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#985762 - 12/03/08 04:19 PM Re: Note durations counting,
IngridT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Netherlands
a quarter and an eight is the same length as a dotted quarter. There's basically 2 ways to say the same thing. A composer may have reasons to choose one over the other.

But your other question... I think it's impossible to play well without counting. Especially when things get a bit more complex then 'just basis' you're getting nowhere without counting a couple of measures when playing something for the first (few) times.

My husband plays as well, and he barely counts. He plays stuff from my Alfred books, but regularly ends up with nice sounding pieces, which really sound a lot different from what I played (and guess who's right?)

Ingrid

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#985763 - 12/03/08 05:12 PM Re: Note durations counting,
Rosanna Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/07
Posts: 1360
Loc: San Francisco Bay area
Are you playing by ear or from score? If you are playing by ear and have a great sense of rhythm, then counting is possibly optional. But if you are playing from score, and are just relying on your knowledge of the rhythm of the piece of music to play it, then I imagine sooner or later, you are going to run into a road block if you cannot read scores and count properly. In general, "feeling" the rhythm and counting the rhythm to me feel like they use two different aspects of the brain - right and left brain so to speak. Some people have more natural aptitude in one than the other, but both are good skills to cultivate. But if your goal is to purely play by ear, and you have the aptitude to "feel" your way through the rhythm, I won't say it's "bad" if you don't count.
_________________________

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#985764 - 12/04/08 07:00 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
No not by ear.
Yes I know that a quarter note and and an eight is the same as a dotted quarter, but I wanna know why would somebody put it into a score instead of simplier note (and I'm not talking when you're supposed to use a tie at end of the bar...)

But counting seems so difficult \:\( , who does it work?

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#985765 - 12/04/08 11:18 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Oxfords Gal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/21/06
Posts: 1553
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
I wouldn't count either but my teacher is a perfectionist when it comes to the way the music should play.

No matter how much she would tell me to count, I wouldn't until one day she made me clap it out with her. \:\( From that day on I count it at home and once I hear it a few times I can do it without counting.

If you play and you don't get the right count it might sound good to people who don't know any better but when someone knows what it's supposed to sound like, they'll know. Believe me. \:D
_________________________
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster

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#985766 - 12/06/08 08:43 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
Today my cousin vistitd who finished piano in music school, I asked her to play something that she had never played, she said she plays without counting, and she didn't do any mistake in the rhytm.

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#985767 - 12/06/08 10:12 AM Re: Note durations counting,
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Evaldas:
Today my cousin vistitd who finished piano in music school, I asked her to play something that she had never played, she said she plays without counting, and she didn't do any mistake in the rhytm. [/b]
Evaldas, my initial reaction to your statement was that you wouldn't be aware of a mistake in rhythm unless you were counting.

Now, I'm no longer sure what people mean when they say they count or don't count—or even what "counting" means to others.

I don't necessarily think of the term in the strict literal meaning. To me, counting includes the mere awareness of the precise arithmetical durations of notes and rests within each measure.

In this sense, then, I don't think it's possible to play with rhythmic accuracy without counting. I consider it an integral element of the music, and had always assumed it was equally ingrained in others as well.

After all, every note and every rest has to be given some duration. Without counting, how would one decide what that temporal value of a note or a rest should be? Aren't we always counting whether we're conscious of it or not?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#985768 - 12/06/08 10:22 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
Well if the melody only includes only half, quarter and eighth notes then I DON'T COUNT, for me when I play those notes it just feels when it's correct (or sometimes I use metronome, but rarely). And if the melody would be more difficult then I would listen to a record, or write the notes to a note input program, listen and then play. I just can't count, it's too dificult to me.

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#985769 - 12/06/08 10:54 AM Re: Note durations counting,
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Well, alrighty then. \:\)

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#985770 - 12/06/08 10:54 AM Re: Note durations counting,
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2462
Loc: Denver, CO
Evaldas,

Here's why I think it is very, very important for beginner and intermediate players to count.

You are right, counting is hard. Every bit of your attention is on trying to get all the other parts of the music you are playing right. Why should you focus on counting?

- Once you get good at counting - and it will take quite a while - it gives you another tool to focus on problem rhythms.
- It gives you a way to talk about the rhythms.
- It gives you another way to confirm that the rhythms are right, and believe me there are many subtle rhythms that are very difficult to hear that you have them right.
- Your ability to focus on more tasks while playing has been enhanced. When you stop counting, you have more of your brain that you can use for other parts of your playing. Like listening, correcting notes or dynamics, keeping track of problem sections so you can revisit them later, working with the pedal, etc. To me, this reason alone is the most important one and would be a good enough reason to go through the pain of learning to count.

Rich
_________________________

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#985771 - 12/06/08 11:05 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
Ok, for example if I get something tricky as this, how does counting apply here?

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#985772 - 12/06/08 11:16 AM Re: Note durations counting,
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2462
Loc: Denver, CO
I would count this with the basic pattern:
1 e & e 2 e & e 3 e & e 4 e & e

quarter note: 1 e & e
eighth note: 2 e
sixteenth note: &
sixteenth note tied to dotted eighth: e 3 e &
thirty second notes: e (I would not try to subdivide these on the counting)
eighth note: 4 e
last two sixteenth notes: & e

There are other systems, one of the teachers in the teachers forum uses certain words and syllables that tend to give the proper length to the notes.

By the way, the reason the composer decided to print this with a tie in this particular example is because it makes the counting easier. You see where the third beat really starts.

Rich
_________________________

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#985773 - 12/06/08 11:19 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
^ Oh my.... \:\)

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#985774 - 12/06/08 11:21 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
Though I'd prefer a quarter note written instead of sixteenth+eighth-dotted...

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#985775 - 12/06/08 11:32 AM Re: Note durations counting,
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
One(e and a)
Two (e) and a
(Three e and) a ta
Four (e) and a

Generally, in 4/4, I count the beats that I need in the piece ( all quarters I count 1 2 3 4..and if some 8ths then I count 1 and 2 and ..etc.. and 1/16ths would get 1 e and a 2 e and a ...etc)

I'm with Rich on this one. I have found that you will reach a point that even if you are not conscious that you are counting, you are if you have made it a habit.

We went out the other night and listened to a few amateur bands, and it was obvious to me which ones practiced counting and which ones just try and keep up with the drummer.

My lovely wife has told me she has "caught" me counting 1 2 3 4 semi-silently as I listen.

It's just a habit, and it is absolutely necessary if you want to "play well with others" at some point.

To each their own, of course, but the time is well spend in developing this habit.
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#985776 - 12/06/08 11:37 AM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
Can't metronome do the work \:\) ?

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#985777 - 12/06/08 11:44 AM Re: Note durations counting,
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 12488
Loc: Canada
If counting means saying the names of numbers, that is only one way of doing it. Some people use syllables such as "da deeda diddlediddle" (quarter, two eighths, four sixteenths in 3/4 time in this example). Note values are in proportion to each other, and if you understanad that, then you should be ok. If a difficult rhythm comes in notation, you can take the time to work it out.

Counting also happens within meter, which has its own rhythm consisting of the beats. For example, 3/4 meter has one strong, and two weak beats. When you go "one - two and three and" you are also noticing where your beats are by naming them. But there is no reason not to do that simply by being aware of where the beat falls if you use syllables or tapping, if that works for you (I think?).

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#985778 - 12/06/08 11:48 AM Re: Note durations counting,
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2462
Loc: Denver, CO
Yeah, that is not the example you want to start learning counting with. ;\)

A quarter note looks easier, but the above is much easier to play right and count. Also to get the strong and weak beats right.

You can try to approach rhythms as a series of common beat patterns, and in fact there is some value to this. Your cousin may be taking this approach, but she has a lot of experience playing.

Rich
_________________________

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#985779 - 12/06/08 11:48 AM Re: Note durations counting,
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
You can always subdivide the counting so that a 16th note becomes an 8th note. I do this when I need to play extremely slow. This is also helpful when first learning something complicated because you'll feel the rhythm pulsem and this will keep your beats even as you play the music at the proper tempo.

The metronome is helpful in this process, and is particularly helpful when first learning the music. Try to set the metronome to the largest denominator in the fraction. For music with a lot of 16th notes, I set for the 8ths so I can keep the 16ths even. Once they are even, I then set the metronome for the quarter notes.

Proper counting and consistent rhythm is an important integral part of playing the piano, and it's best to learn these techniques and develop good rhythm in the beginning. Once bad habits set it, it's difficult if not impossible to undo, and developing lazy rhythm technique is unfortunately one of the things that seems to like bad habits. In addition, having a good rhythm technique, is extremely important if you ever wish to play in ensembles or duets. Having good rhythm makes this extremly easy, and eliminates half of the battle of learning to play along with someone else.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#985780 - 12/06/08 11:49 AM Re: Note durations counting,
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Sure, but then you are "keeping up" or trying to "stay" with the beat, and when the metronome is not there, then it's been my experience that the beat will tend to float some. That's probably not true for everyone, but it sure is for me....

It's hard to explain the difference,(for me anyway), but I believe there is a difference.

Nothing wrong with using what works for ya, buddy, but for me I had to learn to count as I was awful when playing without help. If someone listening knew the piece, I could see them cringe at times....
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#985781 - 12/06/08 11:56 AM Re: Note durations counting,
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3529
Loc: US
 Quote:
Originally posted by gmm1:
One(e and a)
Two (e) and a
(Three e and) a ta
Four (e) and a

Generally, in 4/4, I count the beats that I need in the piece ( all quarters I count 1 2 3 4..and if some 8ths then I count 1 and 2 and ..etc.. and 1/16ths would get 1 e and a 2 e and a ...etc)


To each their own, of course, but the time is well spend in developing this habit. [/b]
This is the system I use as well. It took some getting used to but is really worth it. The problem with not counting is that you might think you are "feeling" the beat correctly but you can be way off without realizing it.

Sophia

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#985782 - 12/06/08 12:03 PM Re: Note durations counting,
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 12488
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
By the way what I've noticed that oftenly for example there are two sixteenth notes tied instead of an an eighth, or a quarter and and eighth instead of a dotted quarter, why's that? Would it be wrong if I'd be writing my own melody but wouldn't use all those ties (I mean in a place where I can write a simplier note).
The reason is because your notes have to fall inside the beats of the meter. There are two kinds of time signatures. One is "simple" time: 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 4/8, 3/8 etc. The first number tells you how many beats there are in a bar, and the second one tells you which note value gets the beat.

"Compound time" goes by groups of three: 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, 6/16 etc. 6/8 means that there are two beats in a bar consisting of 3 + 3 pulses (3 eighths) + (3 eighths). Notice that the top number is a multiple of three. 6/8 = 2 beats, 9/8 = 3 beats, 12/8 = 4 beats (3 + 3 + 3 + 3).

Your note values have to "fit inside" these beats, and this also helps the musician keep that beat when he is reading it. All time signatures have some kind of a rhythm and you want to be able to feel it.

Your sample above is written that way for that reason. It's not just that the composer wants to do so: it is correct 'grammar' in music.

This exercise in theory homework (hopefully correct) worked with this. Sorry, it's a bit messy. You will see the same note values grouped into beats, once in compound time, and once in simple time.

regrouping note values

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#985783 - 12/06/08 04:42 PM Re: Note durations counting,
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4879
Loc: South Florida
I would say that "counting" is a word that is used loosely for "tracking what is going on". There are many ways to do it.

But some method needs to be learned and used, or several if necessary, in order to be able to make music correct if you learning what someone else has not played for you.

 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
If counting means saying the names of numbers, that is only one way of doing it. Some people use syllables such as "da deeda diddlediddle" (quarter, two eighths, four sixteenths in 3/4 time in this example).
I would define "counting", loosely, as any stategy used to make sure that the rhythm of what is notated is realized correctly. To me it just means "monitor the rhythm", and often it becomes 100% subconscious for me.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#985784 - 12/06/08 05:41 PM Re: Note durations counting,
Damz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/06
Posts: 264
Loc: Montreal, Canada
In your example I would simply count to 4 on each beat.
[img]http://img.zeden.net/e6c99c244f10c59b1e3ddecc55bd15d34570f2afb[/img]

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#985785 - 12/06/08 06:05 PM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
But how slow would that be?

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#985786 - 12/06/08 06:08 PM Re: Note durations counting,
Damz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/06
Posts: 264
Loc: Montreal, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Evaldas:
But how slow would that be? [/b]
How slow would I count from 1 to 4? Or how slow would it be to play a piece while counting this way?

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#985787 - 12/06/08 06:10 PM Re: Note durations counting,
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 119
Loc: Vilnius
the tempo for that example is q=80, so I guess slower than that...

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#985788 - 12/06/08 06:24 PM Re: Note durations counting,
Damz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/06
Posts: 264
Loc: Montreal, Canada
You shouldn't pay attention to the suggested tempo when first reading the piece, you must first learn the rythm and notes, unless you don't want to learn the piece and only want to sightread through it. Learn to walk before you run! ;\)

When you'll have the rythm down, you'll be able to feel it and won't have to pay so much attention to it while you work on playing the piece at tempo. But when first learning the rythm you could go half that speed or even slower if necessary.

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#985789 - 12/06/08 09:17 PM Re: Note durations counting,
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Damz:
When you'll have the rythm down, you'll be able to feel it and won't have to pay so much attention to it while you work on playing the piece at tempo. But when first learning the rythm you could go half that speed or even slower if necessary. [/b]
That's what I was trying to say. I feel that, by counting it out when learning, you "build" the piece in your brain. Then, when you perform the piece, it's there, in your head. The counting just happens as you play.

When first starting out, I would listen to the piece if I did not know it, and try to make my hands play it the way I remembered it sounding. When I came up to a harder part, I would tend to "slow down" the music in my head to help my hands keep up. Believe it or not, it's much easier to count. I always "know" where I am in the piece, do not get lost as often, and crashes are recoverable.
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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