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help with rhythm, please

Discussion in 'Technique' started by pianolady, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I sure hope someone can help me....There are a couple bars in this piece that I can't understand how to count and it's been driving me nuts for a few days. It's because of the 3/2 time signature -the 2 on the bottom. I just can't figure this out for some strange reason. :? Does a half-note get 1 count? I can do any other meter with a different number on the bottom like 4, or 8, or 16. I've tried listening to recordings, but they all seem to be slightly different and I can't find any kind of pulse. Specifically, my trouble is at the second bar...how long do you hold the whole notes? And then bar 7...do you hold the whole notes for 6 counts? I hope I don't sound utterly stupid; I really don't get this. It's that 2 on the bottom. I'm okay when it switches to 5/4 time, though. I'm thinking that I might just have to play how I feel it and sort of estimate the counting and hope it's okay because of the marking, 'languidamente e molto rubato'...I dunno....help!
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    If 3/2 fazes you, why not pretend its says 6/4 ? I'm sure some scholars here will jump in saying that this is something completely different :p but this would make it far more logical especially in relation to the 5/4.
    If something is marked languid and molto rubato, you should probably not worry so much about exact counting.
     
  3. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    In an ideal world, I'd suggest you learn it exactly in time, then incorporate the rubato afterwards. 3/2 and 6/4 are indeed different - the pulse is occurring at a different level. However, if counting in 6 helps keep it even, I would do that. I assume you're having trouble finding a pulse in recordings because it's really slow (and the rubato). Counting in 3/2, the second bar is [(whole note)=12] [(lh triplets)=3]. My initial reaction (which might change if I was actually practising the piece!) is that if I was counting in 3/2 from the start, I would change at bar 7 to 1 and 2 and 3 and, and use that as a guide for 12345 in the next bar.
     
  4. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Yippee! A rhythm question! :D

    For practical purposes (at least to begin with, until the rhythm sinks in properly) you should count 6 quarter-notes to the bar as both Chris and Andrew suggest, but of course not as two groups of three (ONE two three FOUR five six) but as three groups of two (ONE two THREE four FIVE six), because eventually you want to try to feel 3 very slow pulses (half notes) to the bar without too consciously subdividing them.

    The difficulty is that you can't really do this until you get to bar 3, because in the first two bars the situation is complicated by those troublesome triplets.

    All you need to know is that the three triplet "quarter notes" add up to the value of a half note, and therefore the whole note should last exactly twice as long as the triplet group, that is to say six times as long as each triplet note. Unless I'm misinterpreting Andrew's notation, what he says
    is wrong, his 3 should be a 2.

    Before you begin, decide how fast your main quarter notes are going to be from bar 3 onwards.

    Subdivide each of them into 3 pips. Then two of those pips is how long each of the triplet notes in bar 1 should last. But you may be better just feeling the 3 triplets instead of counting two pips for each.

    When you get to bar 2, just hold the whole-note for six of those triplet pulses (or 12 pips if you prefer).

    As you approach the end of bar 2, reinstate the pips (unless you've retained them) on the last of triplet notes so that you can get the relationship right as you switch to the "proper" quarter notes in bar 3. Each real quarter-note then gets three of these pips, and you should then be at the tempo you decided before you began.

    As soon as you've played the first few notes of bar 3, forget the pips and just use those quarter notes as your basic pulse from then on, so that in bar 7 the dotted whole note gets 6 of these pulses, and then in the 5/4 you continue with the same pulse, except that each bar gets five of them.
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    What I mean is this: (please excuse my inept use of Paint :wink: )
     
  6. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Absolutely.
     
  7. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Ah, I did misinterpret your notation. I now see you meant that Monica should (very slowly) count "one, two" for the whole note and "three" for triplet group, which is absolutely right. But because your "one two" looked like "twelve" I thought you were subdividing the whole note into 12 fractions ("pips") and then giving 3 such pips to each triplet, which of course doesn't add up.
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks for the help, guys! I get most of what you're saying, but I still don't quite understand some things.

    In bar 2 - if I'm counting in 6, then I end up getting 5 counts in the bar instead of 6. Also, how long should I hold the whole note chord at bar 7? If I'm counting in 6, then it would go on for a long time and then I still have to hold it for two more counts in the next measure, right? That seems a little odd to me....it's sooooo long then.

    And is the first bar an incomplete measure?
     
  9. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Only if you play the triplet/septuplet group at double speed relative to the rest. You give four counts to the whole-note and stretch the group out to take up two counts.
    That's right, it's just very contemplative, that's all. Blame the composer. Better not count too slowly then. :) On the other hand there is black stuff coming up, which probably doesn't want to sound hurried. Compromise.
    Yes. Look first at bar 2, which is definitely complete. It must therefore contain three half-note beats, and sure enough it consists of a whole-note (worth two half-notes) followed by this weird triplet/septuplet group which has to fill the third half-note beat. As you can see, this group is identical to the whole of "bar 1", which therefore must last for one half-note beat.

    So "bar 1" is really only one third of a full bar.

    Come to think of it, counting the first two bars in 6 may not be such a good idea after all (even if it might be for later bars) because nothing would actually happen on the even-numbered beats. Counting in 9 triplets per bar might be an option (6 to the whole note, 3 to the group), but that means you would be focusing on the triplets as the main pulse-setter, and fitting in the septuplets somehow as best you can, whereas since the septuplets provide the melodic interest you might prefer to focus on them as also rhythmically more important, and let the triplets sort of fall into place uncounted. That's why you really need to count 3 beats in bar 2 (and 1 beat in "bar 1").
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you again, but I'm still lost.
    Question: Do four eighth notes equal 1 beat? So for bar 5, I can count 1e&a, 2e&a, etc. which then is the same counting for bar 6, right? So that means I'm counting in 3 beats per measure, right? But then why do I count 6 beats for the whole note in bar 7?

    Sorry....seems I have a block in my brain regarding the 2 on the bottom. I hope I never encounter a piece I want to play with that meter again!
     
  11. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Dear Monica,

    First, what is this passage from?

    Now, as to the problem, you are thinking too hard.

    First, let's actually look at the 5/4. This is a "complex" meter. Just like 6/4 (a compound meter) usually means two beats to a measure with the dotted half getting the beat (and the quarter note is actually the division) 5/4 usually indicates that the quarter is the division and that there are two main beats in the measure -- in this case one is a half-note and one a dotted half-note (a kind of "limping" 6/4 time).

    When we talk about beats in a measure, we usually think of stronger and weaker beats. In 4/4 time, we consider that 1 has a strong metric stress, 2 is weak, beat 3 strong (but not as strong as 1) and 4 is weak. Ultimately, your foot taps to beats one and three, creating a duple division of the measure. These 4/4 measures are divided into 2 eighth notes per beat (and 4 per foot tap).

    6/4 time gives us those same 2 taps, but with the beat divided into 3's not 2's. We can write the equivalent of 6/4 simply by using quarter note triplets against half notes (vs. 3 quarter notes vs. a dotted half.)

    -----------
    [Note: The divider line is because I have changed my train of thought. The way I was trying to explain it was getting difficult to write, but there may be something there that helps. I've been writing this post for over an hour now.]

    Anyway. The 3/2 indicates that we are dealing with the half note as the beat. There is some semblance of 3 strong pulses in each 3/2 measure. The 5/4 measures do NOT indicate 5 beats, but rather a division into a half note and an elongated half note (dotted half) as the beat. By the end of the passage, the 3/2 part turns into three half notes per measure. The composer slurred them this way.

    Now when you hit the 5/4, the first measure seems to divide into a dotted half beat followed by a shorter half note beat. Then the next measure seems to reverse it -- the melody, stuck on c-d for 2 quarters -- followed by 3 quarter notes of movement. Then we seem to get back to a dotted half/half division. The quarter notes are not necessarily the beat, but the division of the beat -- the pulse. Of course, the tempo, particularly with rubato may obscure everything more.


    Scott
     
  12. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Yes.
    Right.
    Right.
    You don't. You count 3 beats. Your brain is telling you that bar 7 must last the same amount of time as bar 6, and your brain is right!

    What hasn't helped your confusion is that we've been giving you two alternative recommendations:
    One possibility, method 1, was to think of there being six quarter-note beats per bar (so you would then count bars 5 and 6 as 1&2&3&4&5&6&). It is only with this method that there would be 6 beats for the dotted whole note (one-and-a-half note) in bar 7.
    The other possibility, method 2, was to think of there being three half-note beats per bar (so you would count bars 5 and 6 as 1e&e2e&e3e&e). With this method there are 3 beats in bar 7.

    What both these methods have in common, though, is that you are dividing each full bar into 12 pips or "counting syllables". Notice how each of "1&2&3&4&5&6&" and "1e&e2e&e3e&e" has 12 characters, each of which is a "syllable". If you're counting 12 syllables for each of bars 5 and 6, then bar 7 must also get 12 syllables of the same size. This is the case regardless of whether you are using method 1 or method 2.

    I've been nudging you towards method 2 because the trouble with method 1 is that it is not really suitable for bars 1 and 2 since they have no obvious subdivision into six. For these two (or to be more precise, one-and-a-third) bars, you certainly want to count 3 major beats per bar (as in method 2), but you might want to subdivide each of those beats into 3 syllables instead of four (to accommodate the triplets). But if you do this, be aware that the syllables in bar 2 are longer than in bar 3 - you still want bar 3 to last the same amount of time as bar 2. Ideally you want to move away from consciously subdividing the beats as soon as you can, and just feel the slow half-note beats.
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, I probably am thinking too hard. And I understand breaking it down into syllables. I get that now, thank you, but when I play it - it doesn't seem to want to flow right.

    I just thought of something....can anyone point me to a recording or youtube video of a piece that's written in 3/2 time? Something that's pretty straight forward without rubato and all that stuff? I think if I listen to some examples of 3/2 time, then I will better understand all this.
     
  14. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    How about prelude No 8 from WTC1 - BWV853?

    Is the '2' on the bottom of the time signature really the problem, and would the problem go away if it were a '4' instead? Like the following?
     
  15. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Guess what? I get it now!! :D Yay :) :) :)

    Listening to the Bach example helped a lot! I can't download the attachment because I'm at work now. But that's okay, because I GET IT NOW!!!! :D :D

    Thank you very much everybody. PS is the best!!! :D
     

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