minstrel: 12/8 time signature

Pat Yarrow yarrowp at mscd.edu
Fri Feb 3 07:36:37 PST 2006

You're correct on your definition of triplet, and I misspoke.  I'm afraid I
was reverting to the method my theory profs used for counting the eighth
note in a compound rhythm:  for 12/8, it was one trip-let two trip-let three
trip-let four trip-let.  Then when those notes were divided it was counted
one-a-trip-a-let-ta etc.  Apologies.  Too many semesters waving my hands in
the air to obscure conjuration patterns while chanting arcane syllables.

For those interested in exploring compound time in more detail, I might
suggest this site:

http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory15.htm  This site is particularly useful
in that it gives both American and British terminology.


-----Original Message-----
From: minstrel-bounces at pbm.com [mailto:minstrel-bounces at pbm.com] On Behalf
Of vlatovlaska at woh.rr.com
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006 3:22 PM
To: minstrel at pbm.com
Subject: Re: minstrel: 12/8 time signature

OK, this gets tricky in all sorts of ways. First, technically, a triplet
is 3 equal divisions of a note that is usually either undivided or
divided into two. For instance, if you have a piece full of quarter
notes and eighth notes, triplet eighth notes would be 3 notes that fill
the same amount of time as a quarter note, and when written down they
are marked with a little number 3. So I think what you're talking about
are not called triplets, but are simply three eighth notes that have the
same duration as a dotted quarter when the dotted quarter gets the beat. 

You are right that currently this is marked in the time signature as if
the eighth notes each got a beat, for instance, good old 6/8 time, which
is actually 2 beats of a dotted quarter each. This is simply a
convention because noone has bothered to figure out a better way of
indicating that a dotted note gets the beat. So 12/8 time is simply our
convention for indicating measures with 4 beats of a dotted quarter
each. You're right that alternatively you could write it in 4/4 time
with triplets everywhere. Personally, I think that puts a lot of
unnecessary ink on the page. 

More information about the minstrel mailing list