Jump to content


Photo

3 8 time


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 JudithJ

JudithJ

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1491 posts
  • Member: 3307
    Joined: 11-March 05

Posted 12 January 2019 - 19:05

I'm using an online music theory course on udemy.com.  It is run by a professor from a university in Minnesota and covers material from the very beginning up to masters level.  I'm using it to consolidate, and then to bridge the gap between grades 5 and 6.

The instructor considers 3 8 to be compound time, but all the ABRSM books state that it is simple triple time.  I asked him about it, and he said that there are various schools of thought, and he falls into the compound time school.  I presume that he would conduct it as one beat to a bar.

 

What do you think?  Are there various schools of thought on this one?  Are we all in the ABRSM camp?


  • 0

#2 fsharpminor

fsharpminor

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 17314 posts
  • Member: 7089
    Joined: 07-June 06
  • Heswall, Wirral (originally Keighley, Yorks)

Posted 12 January 2019 - 20:41

Simple triple, like 3/4 time. Cant see any argument for compound. Silly man.!


  • 1

#3 Latin pianist

Latin pianist

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3362 posts
  • Member: 711500
    Joined: 01-April 13

Posted 12 January 2019 - 21:16

There is an old thread on here where it's suggested that because the three quavers are beamed together, they make a dotted crotchet beat. Not my opinion but interesting.
  • 0

#4 Crock

Crock

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 234 posts
  • Member: 288071
    Joined: 20-July 11
  • South West

Posted 12 January 2019 - 21:36

There is an old thread on here where it's suggested that because the three quavers are beamed together, they make a dotted crotchet beat. Not my opinion but interesting.

 

I'm with F#m.   This argument on the old thread seems very strange, relying on a specific written notation. I can't see any reason for distinguishing 3/8 and 3/4.


  • 1

#5 Tenor Viol

Tenor Viol

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 6062 posts
  • Member: 343214
    Joined: 25-October 11
  • North Shropshire

Posted 13 January 2019 - 05:17

This is not a simple right/wrong question. I've thought about this in the past. The usual argument is that if the top number is divisible by 3 then it's compound time.... so 3/4, 3/8, 3/2 etc are all divisible by three, therefore....

But we generally do not consider those to be in compound time.

At the heart of this debate is the inadequacy of modern notation to handle this. Older notation for mensuration / prolation distinguished between the number of beats in a bar and how each beat was sub-divided (i.e. into 2 or 3). There are wiki items on this: https://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Prolation and this one give a more detailed explanation.

I think that my view would be that if it is conducted as one in a bar, it is in effect in compound, since the beat is in effect sub-divided into three, but if it's conducted as three then it's duple.  


  • 0

#6 elemimele

elemimele

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 909 posts
  • Member: 895612
    Joined: 17-July 16

Posted 13 January 2019 - 09:30

Caveat: I know nothing of music theory, so this is an answer based on thinking, not knowing.

Time signatures hold limited information; they're excelent at specifying how many beats there are in a bar, but extremely crude about revealing any other structure in the music. There are obviously loads of structures in a tune, ranging from the beats in a bar through set phrases that have to consist of a certain number of bars, up to the tune itself consisting of a set number of phrases that have a certain relationship (e.g. in a rondo).

The distinguishing feature of compound time is merely that its two lowest levels of structure happen at speeds where we could count either, so we start to think of them as things we should express in a time signature.

The problem is that the same structures can exist in simple-time. A good example is a minuet. Minuets are not waltzes. In a minuet, the first and second bars work together as a unit (and are often echoed in some way by the third and fourth bars, which form a replying unit). The Petzold/Bach minuet in G is a good example; if you sing the first bar, it feels incomplete, while the first two bars together feel more like a unit. In a sense, a minuet is actually compound time, and could happily be written as 6/4, because that's how it's played - it's just slightly slow for people to think of it that way.

From a performance perspective, what matters is that the performer understands the structure, not what they call it. In many ways, the people who wrote Renaissance and Baroque dance suites had the better idea. By specifying "Gigue", "March", "Gavotte", "Sarabande" etc. they told us far more about what to expect than a mere 6/8 could ever convey.

 

I think what's happening in the original question is that the instructor is taking it that something with a  quaver beat (X/8) will be fast. Therefore the next structure up will be obvious. If something is in 3/8, the bars themselves will hold an audible structure that a person could count as a beat, so the listener will hear the two structures going on, exactly as though the music were given the time-signature 6/8, or 9/8 or something, and someone had gone along with an eraser, removing every second (or third) bar-line. There are a lot of assumptions going on here, so I can't honestly say whether I agree or not. It's a bit silly to spend a lot of time deciding whether grey is black or white (though I sympathise with those obliged to do so for the purpose of theory exams).


  • 0

#7 SingingPython

SingingPython

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 646 posts
  • Member: 406151
    Joined: 15-February 12

Posted 14 January 2019 - 05:40

I was discussing 3/8 time with a student only the other day.  I have never considered that 3/8 could be compound and remain unconvinced by the suggested options discussed here.  I've played plenty of orchestral pieces where the conductor beats in 1 - that doesn't mean that, eg, 4/4 was compound time in that piece!  To me the essence of compound time is that you have more than one, subdivided, beat in the bar.

 

The piece I was looking at led us into all sorts of fun and games on closer inspection though - 3rd mvt of Vivaldi's G minor violin concerto.  Tied notes and accents and one way to feel it is alternating 3/8 and 3/4 (with a 2nd beat emphasis).  Looks like syncopation but doesn't feel that way.  Great jumping off point for discussion!  Not that I'd ever noticed it previously having learnt it as a child and just played it.


  • 2

#8 sbhoa

sbhoa

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22903 posts
  • Member: 24
    Joined: 31-October 03
  • Tameside

Posted 14 January 2019 - 12:30

If 3/8 can be considered as compound time when essentially it's one in a bar then the same has to go for 3/4


  • 0

#9 HelenVJ

HelenVJ

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2058 posts
  • Member: 1265
    Joined: 03-May 04
  • South-East London ( OK - Penge)

Posted 14 January 2019 - 19:25

None of this will be necessary for Grade 6 theory - just saying happy.png .


  • 0

#10 agricola

agricola

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1749 posts
  • Member: 545
    Joined: 01-February 04

Posted 17 January 2019 - 08:36

3/8 is simple in the same way as 2 is a prime number although all other even numbers are not.  However all multiples of 3/8 (or 3/anything) are compound -- that's what 'compound' means


  • 0

#11 BrokenChordsGirlCG169

BrokenChordsGirlCG169

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 92 posts
  • Member: 897683
    Joined: 04-May 17
  • south-east

Posted 17 January 2019 - 09:51

Ah,I was wondering this - if it's simple time why wouldn't the composer just write it in 3/4? Tempo could be presto or vivace. I'm learning Clementi op 36 no 1 3rd mvt, which does have a 1 in a bar feel. But so do some minuets and musettes? But the 2nd mvt of that sonatina isn't 9/8, although I did wonder why not, as logically it could be. I'm confused. It's a very subtle difference.
  • 0

#12 BrokenChordsGirlCG169

BrokenChordsGirlCG169

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 92 posts
  • Member: 897683
    Joined: 04-May 17
  • south-east

Posted 17 January 2019 - 09:56

I think I like TenorViol's explanation about the subdivision. Reminds me I read somewhere, if what you might think is the beat is too fast to clap or conduct, it's compound.
  • 0

#13 Hildegard

Hildegard

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1037 posts
  • Member: 887389
    Joined: 26-October 13

Posted 17 January 2019 - 18:19

Ah,I was wondering this - if it's simple time why wouldn't the composer just write it in 3/4? .

 

Much is due to convention. Viennese waltzes for example are written in 3.4 time while French waltzes are traditionally notated in 3/8 time. In the Baroque period, the choice of time signature often indicated the style and tempo of dance pieces. thus 3/8 might indicate a fast gigue, 3/4 a stately sarabande and 3/2 a fastish courante.


  • 0

#14 linda.ff

linda.ff

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8034 posts
  • Member: 183500
    Joined: 04-January 11
  • Cambridge

Posted 21 January 2019 - 21:06

I think I like TenorViol's explanation about the subdivision. Reminds me I read somewhere, if what you might think is the beat is too fast to clap or conduct, it's compound.

But if you conduct some Strauss Waltzes, and I'm thinking here particularly of Die Fledermaus, you spend a lot of the time beating one in a bar and only go into 3 when you apply the brakes to turn a corner, as it were - yet it's in 3/4. That would make it compound, which I don't think it is.


  • 0