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Thread: difference between 3/4 and 3/8

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    Default difference between 3/4 and 3/8

    whats the difference between usage of 3/4 and 3/8 in a song
    is there any real difference?

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    Triple meters can be a tiny bit more complicated than duple and quadruple meters...

    If we were to take the rhythmic aspects of triple meters from dances, 3/4 and 3/8 were used for difference styles of dance (for example, in baroque dance suites). 3/4 more often than not had a bit more of a feeling of three beats per bar and 3/8 often had a little more of a hint of one in a bar. It does depend on the dance, what the composer intended etc.

    Compare the minuet (3/4) with the passepied (3/8), especially in music written by Lully and composers after him.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    A 3/4 is just a 4/4 with one of its rear legs missing...
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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    To me, a time signature has to ultimately be decided by the phrasing of the music.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    To me, a time signature has to ultimately be decided by the phrasing of the music.
    Which is exactly why I feel a little OCD, when I listen to a performance and there aren't any stress beats or anything to indicate the right time signature.
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    I really enjoy those Haydn and Beethoven triple-time scherzos were the stress beats are used to throw the listener into complete confusion.


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    I'm curious as how far you could go in using the "wrong" time signature, but using stresses, rests, etc. to make it sound exactly the same. Not that there's a reason to do it other than for kicks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenMamba View Post
    I'm curious as how far you could go in using the "wrong" time signature, but using stresses, rests, etc. to make it sound exactly the same. Not that there's a reason to do it other than for kicks.
    Beethoven played with that idea in the Scherzo of his ninth symphony with the "ritmo di quattro battute" passage. Somehow the orchestra navigated that and the original audience was delighted by the idea. Of course he was inserting a common time passage into a triple time movement without changing the time signature, which is kind of the opposite.


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    It's easy, listen: Use "8" if you need to subdivide the beat, like in jazz or latin music. If you need to divide the measure into eight beats, use 3/8. If not, use 3/4.

    It's rhythmic, purely. Let's say you want to have a beat that goes 1-2-3-4-1-2, where it sounds like one group of four and one group of two (4+2), use 3/8. Or 1-2-3-1-2-3, which is two groups of three (3+3).

    The same with 4/8: 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2, which is a cool way to divide it; it sounds like two groups of three, with one group of two.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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    Now, you might ask, what good are 'weird' time signatures like 11/8? Well, examples I've heard are in jazz. The tune is in 4/4, basically, but a measure of three appears. It could be written either way, as one measure of 11/8, or as 2 measures of 4/8 and one of 3/8.
    The Beatles' All You Need Is Love is irregular, because of the lyrics, and John Lennon's vocal. It follows him. "nothing you can do that can't be done" is sung over one measure of 4/4 plus one measure of 3/4. This makes less of a pause between lines, and makes the verses take up less time, which is crucial in a short 3-minute pop song. You could notate it as 7/4 if you wanted, but I see it in books as 4/4 + 3/4. Also, when the chorus comes in, it's in 4/4, which makes it sound "more solid' than the verses.

    I'm still trying to figure out the intro to "She Loves You" and wondering how that was conceived and how it would be notated. Again, I think its irregularity is due to the vocal phrasing, not any attempt to be clever. Maybe I'm just not hearing it correctly, but it's always sounded irregular to me. Where is "1"? How would you count the song off if you had to perform it?
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Now, you might ask, what good are 'weird' time signatures like 11/8? Well, examples I've heard are in jazz. The tune is in 4/4, basically, but a measure of three appears. It could be written either way, as one measure of 11/8, or as 2 measures of 4/8 and one of 3/8.
    The Beatles' All You Need Is Love is irregular, because of the lyrics, and John Lennon's vocal. It follows him. "nothing you can do that can't be done" is sung over one measure of 4/4 plus one measure of 3/4. This makes less of a pause between lines, and makes the verses take up less time, which is crucial in a short 3-minute pop song. You could notate it as 7/4 if you wanted, but I see it in books as 4/4 + 3/4. Also, when the chorus comes in, it's in 4/4, which makes it sound "more solid' than the verses.

    I'm still trying to figure out the intro to "She Loves You" and wondering how that was conceived and how it would be notated. Again, I think its irregularity is due to the vocal phrasing, not any attempt to be clever. Maybe I'm just not hearing it correctly, but it's always sounded irregular to me. Where is "1"? How would you count the song off if you had to perform it?
    What good are weird time signatures? Ask the Indian people that, because in their classical music they have an incredible sense of rhythm. Seriously, their time signatures make ours look awfully simple by comparison, what with the 8-6-8, 12-7-12 and other similar beat cycles.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
    Nahj ul-Balāgha by Ali bin Abu-Talib

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    Quote Originally Posted by m099 View Post
    whats the difference between usage of 3/4 and 3/8 in a song
    is there any real difference?
    In a fast tempo 3/8 is likely to be counted in 1, that is, one beat per measure — or, another way to look at it: the basic beat is likely to divide into three parts, whereas the basic beat in 3/4 is going to divide into 2 parts.

    The best advice is to get a feel for this, as CoAG is suggesting, by actually listening to or playing pieces written in these signatures and hearing and feeling the differences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    What good are weird time signatures? Ask the Indian people that, because in their classical music they have an incredible sense of rhythm. Seriously, their time signatures make ours look awfully simple by comparison, what with the 8-6-8, 12-7-12 and other similar beat cycles.
    Well, what they do might look more "complicated" than it realy is; they string together units like a string of beads. They might have a melodic unit that is 17 beats, divided 3+3+3+4+4.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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    Though one might argue about how different each of those two time signatures feel – and indeed, for which different dances they have been used traditionally – the difference between 3/8 and 3/4 seems to manifest most strongly in the impact which it has on note values. If you're trying to write down a piece and you already have sixteenth notes in 3/4 time, it might not be the most prudent thing to write it down in 3/8 – unless you like drawing extra beams and flags.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sappho View Post
    Though one might argue about how different each of those two time signatures feel – and indeed, for which different dances they have been used traditionally – the difference between 3/8 and 3/4 seems to manifest most strongly in the impact which it has on note values. If you're trying to write down a piece and you already have sixteenth notes in 3/4 time, it might not be the most prudent thing to write it down in 3/8 – unless you like drawing extra beams and flags.
    Right! and ink is expensive.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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