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How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
#2103494 06/16/13 08:06 PM
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Hello,

Here's a little background. I'm a Chinese speaker who's lived in the US for over 20 years but I've never been able to count fast in English. It's always felt easier and much more accurate to count in Chinese. I'm not sure why but I guess that's how my brain works.

I started learning the piano 2 years ago and counted the notes in Chinese. But when I got to 1/8 notes, my teacher told me that I need to count faster. I'm having some problems playing fast and I'd like to fix it as soon as I can.

So here's my question for those of you who speak Chinese: how do you count 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?

Many thanks in advance!


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Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
mrcultureshock #2103500 06/16/13 08:14 PM
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I couldn't help with Chinese but, in general, counting beyond an eighth note will never work - and at modest tempos not even 8th notes. I wouldn't bother trying!

What you need to get is the inner pulse, to feel the rhythm internally. Count the quarter notes if you need. Very occasionally, slowing things down I'll count less but hardly at all.


  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
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Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
Andy Platt #2103516 06/16/13 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy Platt
I couldn't help with Chinese but, in general, counting beyond an eighth note will never work - and at modest tempos not even 8th notes. I wouldn't bother trying!
I disagree. Usually beyond 16th notes it unnecessary. But at first to really learn the relationship between different rhythms it's best to count up to 16ths if that is the shortest note duration you have.

To the OP, I'm sorry, I do not speak Chinese and don't know if they have a special way to count. You can use Chinese words that have the right number of syllables and that would be good to say whenever you have those notes.


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Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
mrcultureshock #2103634 06/17/13 01:39 AM
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You might try using syllables for counting like Morodiene suggested. See here for some suggestions: http://www.abrsm.org/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t52351.html

I'd also give this video a watch for more great advice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK8pzcjzUXE

Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
mrcultureshock #2103644 06/17/13 02:08 AM
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You probably could combine Chinese and English together. From Google Translate entering 1234 results in 一二三四. Now just use Chinese and English together.

In English, you would count "one and, two and, three and, four and", so in Chinese just count "一 and, 二 and, 三 and, 四 and", for 8th notes, and "一 ee and ah, 二 ee and ah, 三 ee and ah, 四 ee and ah", for 16th notes.

Nothing to it. In the Bay Area where I live and work, I hear lots of people mix their native language with English together all the time.

Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
Morodiene #2103709 06/17/13 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Andy Platt
I couldn't help with Chinese but, in general, counting beyond an eighth note will never work - and at modest tempos not even 8th notes. I wouldn't bother trying!
I disagree. Usually beyond 16th notes it unnecessary. But at first to really learn the relationship between different rhythms it's best to count up to 16ths if that is the shortest note duration you have.

To the OP, I'm sorry, I do not speak Chinese and don't know if they have a special way to count. You can use Chinese words that have the right number of syllables and that would be good to say whenever you have those notes.


Hmm, I think I was thinking more at tempo counting. If you are counting 16ths it's going to be pretty slow. Here's what I would count, which should work even if English is not great: ONE-two-three-four, TWO-two-three-four, THREE-two-three-four, FOUR-two-three-four.


  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

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Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
Andy Platt #2103884 06/17/13 02:54 PM
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Andy Platt, I have read your post,here:

I couldn't help with Chinese but, in general, counting beyond an eighth note will never work - and at modest tempos not even 8th notes. I wouldn't bother trying!

I disagree. Usually beyond 16th notes it unnecessary. But at first to really learn the relationship between different rhythms it's best to count up to 16ths if that is the shortest note duration you have.

To the OP, I'm sorry, I do not speak Chinese and don't know if they have a special way to count. You can use Chinese words that have the right number of syllables and that would be good to say whenever you have those notes.


Hmm, I think I was thinking more at tempo counting. If you are counting 16ths it's going to be pretty slow. Here's what I would count, which should work even if English is not great: ONE-two-three-four, TWO-two-three-four, THREE-two-three-four, FOUR-two-three-four.

_________________________________________________

Thanks for the memories - of playing in a band and finding out I had to count measures before I could play a note. Counting is critical for a beginner because you can get lost in the music if you can't count correctly and if you can't count the notes in the measure by their values, you don't know how the music is supposed to sound like. Good post.

Last edited by Michael_99; 06/17/13 02:56 PM.
Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
mrcultureshock #2103900 06/17/13 03:25 PM
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Don't know about Chinese, but I usually count 1/16th one-e-and-a,two-e-and-a....(long e, short a vowel sounds).

Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
mrcultureshock #2103944 06/17/13 04:33 PM
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I don't use Japanese to count. English is better because I can subdivide the notes using "and a" etc. as others pointed out. Besides you are in the States anyway. It will make it convenient to communicate with your teacher, friends and other instruments in an ensemble. I did not even know ABC system for the notes since we used fixed do system in Japan. I tried to stick to it at first but gave up. Too much hussle to translate.

Re: How do you 1/8 and 1/16 notes in Chinese?
Andy Platt #2103950 06/17/13 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy Platt
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Andy Platt
I couldn't help with Chinese but, in general, counting beyond an eighth note will never work - and at modest tempos not even 8th notes. I wouldn't bother trying!
I disagree. Usually beyond 16th notes it unnecessary. But at first to really learn the relationship between different rhythms it's best to count up to 16ths if that is the shortest note duration you have.

To the OP, I'm sorry, I do not speak Chinese and don't know if they have a special way to count. You can use Chinese words that have the right number of syllables and that would be good to say whenever you have those notes.


Hmm, I think I was thinking more at tempo counting. If you are counting 16ths it's going to be pretty slow. Here's what I would count, which should work even if English is not great: ONE-two-three-four, TWO-two-three-four, THREE-two-three-four, FOUR-two-three-four.

I actually think you're both saying two completely different things. Andy, I instinctively thought you meant tempo-counting by your first response. But the responses to you were more concerned with the breakdown of those individual beats. So, in essence, everyone's right. You're right: you can't reasonably count between beats as the tempo increases. You have to internalize it. They're right: it's important for beginners to use whatever devices best work for them in order to learn those relationships so that they can internalize it. I think you were just one step ahead in the process. smile

To the OP:

People are saying it's easier in English because 1-ee-and-uh is all monosyllabic. I think you can do this just as easily in Chinese if you use letters/sounds that are only one syllable and can be said (or thought) quickly. You will want to avoid alliteration (letters/sounds that are similar) because that can lead to tongue-twisters. Think, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." Try it in counting: 1-pete-pipe-pick 2-pete-pipe-pick, and you'll see what I mean. wink


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