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What does 6/8 time signature mean?

Posted by PianistKim 
What does 6/8 time signature mean?
January 11, 2017 09:52PM
This is a question in my music book.

I dont know whether to write '6 beats in a measure, the eighth note gets the beat' or '6 eighth notes in a measure'.

Are those two right? Is one better than the other? Is there another way to answer this question?
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
January 12, 2017 07:57AM
6/8 is compound duple time. The basic beat is a dotted quarter note which is divided into 3 eighth notes.

So actually there are two (dotted quarter note) beats in a measure.

If you were counting it, you'd go: One-and-a- Two-and-a...

(This is different from simple time such as 2/4 where there are two (quarter note) beats per measure, each divided into 2 eighth notes; One-and Two-and...)

Check out this textbook on Four Part Harmony.
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
March 27, 2017 09:32PM
PianistKim...

You're probably no longer looking for an answer but just in case... JumpingJackFlash's answer is certainly not wrong and can really help you understand how 6/8 works, but the really simple version is that there are 6 beats in each measure and each beat is an 8th note. In practice we tend to think of these six eighth notes as a dotted quarter note, and thus put a secondary accent on the 4th eighth note, but at the end of the day it's still 6 beats in a measure, where each beat is an eight note.
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
March 29, 2017 11:39PM
Thanks for your answer =)
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
April 09, 2017 09:50AM
I wonder if this will be considered spam, but there are examples of the time signatures with conducting patterns and audio examples here:

beststudentviolins.com/TimeSignatures.html

The 6/8 section:

beststudentviolins.com/ConductingPattern_a.jpg

2/4 is two beats per measure; the unit of measurement is a quarter note, which gets one beat. 6/8 is conducted in "2" but the unit of measurement is an eighth note, which gets one beat. 6/8 is "compound" because there are two groups of three eighth notes. In 6/8 a quarter note gets two beats; a dotted quarter note gets three beats. 2/4 is characteristic of marching band (for example). See:

Click to Listen Simple Duple Meter
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
April 25, 2017 05:49AM
How do you tel the difference - when listening to a piece - between 6/8 and 3/4?
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
April 25, 2017 06:45AM
Rex Hamilton III Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How do you tel the difference - when listening to
> a piece - between 6/8 and 3/4?

See my earlier answer; do you feel two or three beats per bar?

Listen to America from Wet Side Story, it famously alternates between these two time signatures; you should be able to feel it: | ONE-and-a TWO-and-a | One Two Three |

Check out this textbook on Four Part Harmony.
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
April 25, 2017 10:44AM
But the problem I have with that is I don't know if I'm listening to a mid-tempo song in 3/4 or a slower in 6/8.
Eg: one-and-a-two-and-a - which is 6/8 - would be one-two-three-one-two-three in 3/4.

Take Everybody Hurts for example, I could see it being 3/4 which is a chord per bar or 6/8 and two chords per bar.
(My instinct is to say it's 6/8 though).
Re: What does 6/8 time signature mean?
April 25, 2017 12:52PM
Rex Hamilton III Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Take Everybody Hurts for example, I could see it
> being 3/4 which is a chord per bar or 6/8 and two
> chords per bar.
> (My instinct is to say it's 6/8 though).

At the risk of adding to your confusion, Everybody Hurts is in 12/8 which has 4 beats in a bar :)
It could however be written in 6/8.

Check out this textbook on Four Part Harmony.
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