The Eighth Note

Monday, January 15, 2007

Up to now, it has been possible to count the measures by giving each of the notes one or more counts. The same applies to eighth notes when the time signature has an eight as the lower number. For instance, 6/8 measures are counted like this:

The differences to notice here are:
> There are two stresses in 6/8, on the first and fourth beats. The stress on the first beat is
slightly heavier than the stress on the fourth.
> Because the eighth note is the counting unit, the quarter note, which lasts as long as
two eighth notes, now gets two counts.
> The dotted quarter note counts half as much again, i.e., it gets three counts.

When faster notes are grouped together, they are frequently joined together to make them easier to read. For instance, the above would normally be written like this: