Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time Signatures With 6 Beats

Robin asked a good question at rehearsal last night. She wanted to know about the time signature for Banks of Newfoundland. How does it work?

The Banks of Newfoundland is in 6/8 time. That means that there are 6 counts in each bar and 8th notes count as one beat. When you count, you count 123,456. I conduct it in 2.

I showed you how 6 counts are supposed to be conducted, and it's just too messy. (Even when a song is slower, I don't use it. I'll do two sets of 3.) Also, the rocking boat feel of the song is the result of the emphasis on beats 1 and 4. Starting your ahs on beat 4 pushes the boat into the water. The soaring of the birds works the same way. I give you beats 1 and 4, and most of the time that's all you need.

In this sample diagram, you'll see what you mostly have in Banks of Newfoundland in the third bar, 2 dotted quarter notes. ( 1 quarter = 2 eighths, a dot adds half of the note value, so 2+1=3 beats, and 3+3=6: math!)

We have an example of  a 6-beat bar in Spacious Firmament too. Spacious Firmament switches between 4/4 and 6/4 time.

Look at section C on page 3. At the top of page 3, the time signature changed to 6/4. The second bar of C is in 4/4 and then it goes back and forth between 4/4 and 6/4 in that section.  

In 6/4 time, there are 6 counts, and quarter notes count as 1 beat. That works well with the 4/4 time where the bar has 4 quarter notes. So, a quarter note always gets one count. An eighth is half of a quarter (count: 1and 2and 3and 4and). A half note is equal to 2 quarters so it gets 2 beats. A whole note gets 4.  It's just the length of the bars that are different. Some have 4 beats and some have 6. Here, the song is slow and I conduct the 6/4 bars as 2 sets of 3. So, beat 4 is a down beat, and you get each beat counted out. 

Here's a simple review of 4/4 time showing the values of the quarter, half and whole notes. 

With 6/8 time, you just keep counting to 6. If you want one note to last a whole bar, it'll be a dotted whole note. 1 whole = 4 quarters, plus the dot adds half the value of the note, so 4+2=6. You'll see one in the last bar of Spacious Firmament. 

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