Category Archives: Counting Musical Time

Counting musical time is a fundamental skill and a tool which musicians need to be able to use and understand in order to keep a beat. It is an important tool that you will be able to use for knowing where you are at any given time in a piece of music/score, or in order to successfully improvise against a piece of music.

Counting and understanding counting musical time is also important if you are to decipher passages of music and to understand what is going on both rhythmically and melodically . It can also be used as a springboard for composing your own compositions of both melody and rhythm. A good understanding of counting musical time is important for improvisation.

Counting 4/4 Time using the 1/16th notes

In this lesson I will demonstrate and explain the methods that I use for counting 4/4 time. Counting time is probably one of the most important skills that you have to learn as a musician but it is also a gateway into the world of creating and composing your own music. Understanding counting is an integral part of composing melody because it controls the underlying rhythm of any melody .

This lesson gets us thinking about counting  4/4 time and shows you what I consider to be the most useful way to do this. In this lesson we will be using a 1/16th note (semi-quaver note) to make the count. This I believe to be the most useful and often used subdivision. Anything smaller than this (1/32 note for example starts to make the counting complicated and ridiculous). Once you can understand and apply the count to the various notes of the subdivisions that you will encounter then we can then go on to look at making some rhythmic examples of phrases over a one or 2 bars. I will then go on to show you how these can be adapted and made into short melodic statements (melodies).

Continue reading Counting 4/4 Time using the 1/16th notes

Method of counting 1/16 th notes in 12/8 time

Many teachers and Music Theory sites will tell you that you count 12/8 time out in 1/8th notes. Well yes this is true but this is only good if you are using 1/8th notes all the time, which is a bit repetitive. To be more musical and creative you are at some point going to want to subdivide  the beat into other compound time configurations so sticking rigidly to counting the beat in 1/8 th notes is not going to be helpful and possibly it may actually become difficult. My method for counting in 12/8 time jumps ahead and actually uses the 1/16th notes to make the count assuming that this is the most useful and likely subdivision of the 1/8th note beat that you will use and encounter.

Continue reading Method of counting 1/16 th notes in 12/8 time