### 6/8 tim

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Hi,

I've been teaching for 8 years so I understand 6/8. My big question is WHY do we have it? I mean I know that you feel it in the pulse of two, but students keep asking me why; and I don't have a good answer. Can you help?

Diana Stocksdale dstocksd@sbcglobal.net

-- Diana Stocksdale (dstocksd@sbcglobal.net), December 08, 2004

I'm not sure if I totally understand your question, but here goes. Pieces in time sig's such as 4/4 or 2/4 have a pulse that can be sub- divided by 2. (this is called "simple meter"). The beats will sound like "strong weak strong weak, or strong weak weak weak."

But in 6/8 (or 3/8) the pulse can be sub-divided by 3 (and is considered "compound meter"). It will sound like "strong weak weak strong weak weak."

If your students don't understand why there are 6 beats in a measure, yet we feel a pulse of 2 beats in a measure, try this: play for them some simple piece in 6/8, rather slowly, and have them clap the beat. They will be able to clap each of the 6 beats, showing them that there are, indeed, 6 beats per measure. Then show the student that, as you play faster, it becomes non-sensical to try to clap all 6 beats; the student will start to feel the 2 main pulses that occur on beats 1 and 4.

Did I come close to answering your question? If not, don't hesitate to clarify a bit more.

-- annie (no_name_poster@yahoo.com), December 08, 2004.

You can produce the same effect as 6/8 by writing in 2/4 and using triplets, but I tell students that composers are inherently lazy (that's why they invented repeat signs, Da Capo, etc.), and that they got tired of writing all those little number "3"s over their triplets...so they figured out a system that they could just write them without using the numbers.

Alice

-- Alice Dearden (alicedearden@look.ca), December 09, 2004.

But how do you explain why it's not two bars of 3/8 time instead of one bar of 6/8? In some 6/8 music there are actually dotted bar lines in the middle. My explanation is that 6/8 theoretically has a metrical pattern of strong weak weak medium weak weak to coincide with the idea of two sets of triplets in 2/4 like the last reader stated.

-- Anita (anitagreenways@hotmail.com), December 12, 2004.