minstrel: 12/8 time signature
yarrowp at mscd.edu
Thu Feb 2 11:31:17 PST 2006
That's exactly what 12/8 means. It isn't 12 beats per measure, it's 4, with
each beat subdivided into triplets. Similarly, 9/8 is three subdivided
beats per measure, and 6/8 is 2 subdivided beats. It's what is referred to
as a compound time signature, and I wouldn't say that it's syncopated unless
the beat falls somewhere other than where it naturally would.
Note: 9/8 in Middle Eastern music does not necessarily follow this
convention - Middle Eastern rhythms are additive, and karshlimar is a 9/8
that's divided quarter quarter quarter eighth eighth eighth. There are also
some interesting additive rhythms in traditional Breton music, such as
11/16. Don't try to turn them into compound rhythms unless they're clearly
divisible by 3, such as 15/8.
From: minstrel-bounces at pbm.com [mailto:minstrel-bounces at pbm.com] On Behalf
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006 11:04 AM
To: minstrel at pbm.com
Subject: minstrel: 12/8 time signature
Greetings to the list!
I have a question regarding time signatures in music.
I was listening to some Scot Joplin rag time a while ago while looking
at the sheet music and noticed that the syncopation is written as
triplets, in other words, a quarter note and an eighth note combined as
a triplet for one beat.
Recently I heard a medieval song called "Da Que Deus Mamou" by Alfonso
X, which has the same syncopated rhythm (although slower). It was
written in 12/8 time with alternating quarter notes and eighth notes for
the fast part and dotted quarter notes for the slow part. If I tap my
foot really fast, I can do 12 beats to the measure, but I realized that
rhythm is actually 4 triplets per measure. The natural foot tapping mode
is 4 beats per measure with the dotted quarter note getting one beat.
So my question, is how best to describe this. There doesn't seem to be
a convention for this type of time signature except to write it as 12/8,
which doesn't reflect one beat for the dotted quarter note. The
alternative is to write it out as triplets so that the quarter note gets
Any thoughts or comments appreciated!
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