In 6/8 time, each measure consists of six eighth notes. Us are regularly told that because of this there are 6 beats in 6/8 time.

You are watching: How many eighth notes can be placed in a measure of 6/8 time

But once my tape plays a piece in 6/8, the conductor counts in two. Also, the tempo is often denoted with a dotted 4 minutes 1 note beside it; and I once read an SE post (I don"t remember where) claiming the 6/8 time walk not mean six eighth notes, but rather two dotted quarters.

So space there really just two beats, or are there six?


There are two an easy types of meter: simple meter, i beg your pardon divides win naturally into two parts, and compound meter, which divides to win naturally right into three parts.

Time signatures wherein the peak number is a many of three, like 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, etc. Are usually link meter. The bottom number in a link signature indicates the division that the beat.

If friend write measures of 2/4 utilizing all eighth note triplets you"ll get the very same rhythm together if you wrote procedures of 6/8 utilizing all eighth notes. Using a compound meter eliminates the should write "3" over every the beams.

As much as conducting and counting goes, if it"s fast it"s excellent in two, and if it"s slow it deserve to be excellent in six.

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reply Mar 4 "19 in ~ 13:49

Tom SerbTom Serb
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"We are regularly told that thus there are 6 beats in 6/8 time." Really? by who? no someone who"s acquired through an primary school concept class.

The typical answer is "two". Many of the time once you check out 6/8, the conductor will certainly beat two in the bar.

4/4 has actually 4 beats. However sometimes, in a slow-moving piece, the conductor may decide come beat the "in 8". In the exact same way, a sluggish 6/8 might be take away "in 6". But that simple 2 count will certainly still it is in there.

Don"t obtain sidetracked by "America". The shifts between 6/8 and also 3/4. Contemporary walk this type of point a lot. A piece notated in 6/8 might constantly change between 3+3 groupings and 2+2+2 groupings, beween 6/8 and 3/4. Us don"t always bother come keep transforming key signatures.

"America" is often notated as 6/8 in a track copy. In the initial score that was given as 6/8(3/4). (And no, nobody of us have encountered "Seis" everywhere else either! If you"re interested, begin at i 32 that this:


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edited Jun 20 in ~ 12:57
answer Mar 5 "19 in ~ 12:41

Laurence PayneLaurence Payne
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There room two to win of dotted crotchets in 6/8 time, 6/8 is link duple time with dotted crotchet beats.

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reply Mar 4 "19 at 13:17

Neil MeyerNeil Meyer
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TL;DR: 6/8 indicates a measure up of 6 eighth notes, by default grouped into two groups of three. How plenty of "beats" you feel or just how you count it have the right to vary. To those the you that teach i don"t really treatment how numerous "beats" you say room in 6/8, but please teach students the groupings the the eighth notes, not just "6 beats per bar." Otherwise, student won"t feeling the meter correctly, and it will bring about lots of confusion later.

The details...

A most questions appear on the nature the 6/8 in this forum. Specifics this inquiry of "2 beats" vs. "6 beats" appears to reason a lot of arguments and consternation amongst beginning students.

And for good reason. Different teachers often have various opinions. I"ve seen many practical method textbooks created for instruments that introduce 6/8 together "6 beats per measure, wherein the eighth keep in mind gets the beat," vice versa, the bulk of theory textbooks introduce 6/8 together "compound duple time," implying a two-fold division with the word "duple." The an initial group normally starts yelling about how the 6 is obviously while signature, while the latter group shout back around the background of time signatures with 6, 9, and also 12, and also how they obviously indicate "compound" meters.

I need to admit, together someone that leans towards the latter view, the I occasionally cringe when I see 6/8 presented in textbooks v the "6 beats" definition, as it"s typically an unhelpful method to view the meter 95% of the time. And also it doesn"t acquire at the two-fold department implied by the 6/8 meter, i m sorry emphasizes the very first and fourth eighth note of the bar (even at slower tempos). But, there space times (maybe

Let"s begin with something much more basic. How around 4/4? How many "beats" are in a 4/4 bar? Most people will to speak "obviously" four. Yet the metric organization of a 4/4 bar is more complicated than that. In particular, there room stress accents implied: the the strongest on the very first beat, a secondary/medium tension on the third beat, and also weaker beats on 2 and 4. Overall, a bar that 4/4 has actually a sample of Strong-Weak-Medium-Weak stresses. From one perspective, there space 4 primary contents here. But if we pick to emphasis on the much more "stressed" beats, we could focus only on win 1 and also 3 (and in fast tempos, occasionally we can tap our feet or clap with just every various other "beat" prefer that), i.e., 2 "beats" every bar. Or, in another sense, us could pick to feel just the strongest stresses, emotion that "downbeat" prefer the conductor"s hand coming down only when per bar. These are all means to "feel" the meter. We can even emphasize lesser level of stress, an especially at a sluggish tempo. We can sense 8 pulses (STRONG-and-WEAK-and-MEDIUM-and-WEAK-and...) ticking away at the eighth-note level.

What I"m describing below is metric hierarchy. We regularly are taught to feeling meter together a hierarchical pattern of levels of stresses, some stronger, some moderate, part weak. Relying on which level we hear or choose to emphasize, we may sense much more or less important "beats" in a notated 4/4 bar.

The same goes for 6/8. For historical reasons, 6/8 means stress ~ above the very first and 4th eighth note of each bar. (STRONG-weak-weak-MEDIUM-weak-weak...) That"s various from 3/4, which indicates stress on the first, third, and fifth eighth notes. (STRONG-weak-MEDIUM-weak-MEDIUM-weak...) In both cases, we see groups of twos and groups the threes, just at different levels the the metric hierarchy. At a sluggish tempo, you might pick to follow both 6/8 and also 3/4 in ~ the eighth-note pulse level, but you"ll hear various patterns of emphasize notes.

All the this is great, however you may be saying by this point: "So i m sorry is the BEAT?!" and also that"s a really complicated question. Generally, in typical English once we describe "beat," we"re referencing something the philosophers often speak to tactus, that is, the metric level where you might tap your foot, or the ar you "feel the pulse."

And that"s a an overwhelming thing come predict. Different people may feeling a various tactus because that the very same piece. (This is why you occasionally will check out some members of a crowd clapping twice as rapid as others together they"re clapping along with mental studies have presented that most people tend to prefer a tactus to autumn in the variety from about 40 beats every minute up to about 160 beats per minute, v the maximum salience of to win preferred roughly 100-110 bpm. In some excessive cases, human being may feeling a tactus under to around 30 bpm or increase to roughly 240 bpm.

If you"re listening a piece in 4/4 play at a tempo the quarter keep in mind = 160, what determines whether you tap her foot in ~ 160 bpm (the quarter keep in mind "beat" level) or maybe at 80 bpm (at the half note level, a little closer to the "most comfortable" and also preferred tactus range)? Or, come get back to ours 6/8 question, why can one piece be notated and felt with a tempo of dotted-quarter = 50 bpm while another piece is notated and felt through an eighth-note = 150 bpm? Both space arguably in ~ the "same tempo," but the "beat" might be felt rather differently.

A most it is affected by style expectations, a sense of "groove" in famous styles, etc. It"s rather difficult to predict from simply looking at a piece on the page, regardless of that is notated meter. Yet crowds often naturally will gravitate toward a details preferred "beat."

Still, in the end, everything level we choose to tap our feet or clap our hand to, there will certainly be level of divisions of 2 and/or 3 at higher and lower levels of meter. Our most typical meters catch these different configurations of 2s and 3s: 6/8 has a two-fold division at a greater level and also a three-fold department at a smaller sized metric level. 3/4 has actually a three-fold department at a greater level and also a two-fold division at a lower level. 2/4 and 4/4 have two-fold departments generally for at the very least two levels. 9/8 means a three-fold division at two levels.

Note the the default division at each level is two-fold in contemporary rhythmic notation (unless triplets room written). Historically, there might be three-fold division at even much more levels, despite it to be rare. (On a pair occasions, I have actually seen a 27/16 or 27/8 time signature, denoting a three-fold division on three consecutive levels. However that"s quite facility to notate properly in modern rhythmic notation, i beg your pardon is why we resort to triplets.)

But again, note that all of these composed meters don"t necessarily show where you have to "feel the beat," i.e., wherein you tap your foot. That"s a issue of tempo and betterworld2016.orgal style, not the moment signature.

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So, come go earlier to the initial question that 6/8 -- in something like 95% of cases, the tactus ("beat") is meant to it is in felt at the dotted-quarter level, through two major "beats" every measure. However, particularly at very slow tempos, human being may tap your feet or sense that the "primary pulse" the the meter is in ~ the eighth-note level, implying six "beats" per measure. (In a item in 6/8 v eighth-note = 60 bpm, very couple of people room going to it is in tapping their feet only once every 3 seconds at 20 bpm come accord v the dotted-quarter groupings.) however even in this last case, those beats room still grouped into two groups of 3 eighths. The metric hierarchy levels space all still implied by the time signature, regardless of just how you counting the measure up or in ~ what level girlfriend "feel the beat."

In the end, I"d say among the hardest points for beginning students to realize is that the score is not "the" it is a blueprint come follow, not necessarily exactly how you "feel" that (or conduct it or tap her foot come it or interpret it or dance to it). Modern-day time signatures space meant together a shorthand to present the relationships of the 2s and 3s that metric hierarchy, no necessarily together a means to phone call you whereby to tap your foot or how countless "beats" to feel per measure. Once you realize that, the doesn"t issue how numerous "beats" space in the 6/8 bar. It"s just a representation of particular metric level groupings... No issue which level you usage to tap your foot or exactly how the conductor ferris wheel a baton.