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#3158087 09/20/21 11:05 AM
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I'm wondering if there is a general rule for how the tempo should be kept through meter changes. For instance, I played a piece that had 7/8 time (3+4) and then when the meter changed to 6/8 I played it so that the 8th notes remained at a constant tempo but played one less per measure. That is usually how I deal with changing meters. However, just now I sight read some music that had a change of meter from 3/4 to 6/8 and that left me perplexed. Should I play it so that the 8th notes remain constant or should I play it so that each beat is constant (in which case 6/8 would feel faster). I decided for the later but I don't know that it's the correct way. I played a bunch of pieces with frequent meter changes but I never learned any rule that says how the tempo should be kept. I guess I always relied on my teacher or my ears.

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Unless it's indicated otherwise, I think it's generally assumed that the 8th note would remain constant.

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Eighths remain constant - this is half the truth. In addition to the meter designation, there is an element called a groove. My personal definition of it: rhythmic tendencies as a result of a system of external and internal accents in rhythm. Therefore, it is impossible to define the 6/8 meter as [7/8 -1], these are two different accentuation and two completely different grooves.
Because I bring up rhythmic feeling through prosody, not through counting; then it will sound like this:
(7/8 = 3 + 4) takita-takatiki, (6/8 = 3 + 3) takita-tukita, (6/8 = 2 + 2 + 2) taka-tiki-taka. The main thing is to pronounce the syllables at a constant pace.

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Yes, the 8th notes remain constant. It is the beat that is stressed that changes: in 3/4, it is the first beat. In 6/8 , Beats 1 and 4 are stressed, with 4 being weaker

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Yes, the 8th notes remain constant. It is the beat that is stressed that changes: in 3/4, it is the first beat. In 6/8 , Beats 1 and 4 are stressed, with 4 being weaker
But 6/8 has two beats! It is "compound duple" time, each beat consisting of a dotted quarter.* Musically it make more sense to me to think of beats than 8th notes and that should define the constancy of the musical pulse. I guess, that's not always the case.

* I know sometimes it is divided into 3 beats but then it's just a notational alternative to 3/4.

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Oh this question always makes me wonder....

You do follow the 8th note unless it says L'ISTESSO TEMPO, in which case the pulse remains constant and the sub-divide changes.

You sometimes also see instructions in brackets, like 'quaver = quaver', which can be helpful, but not always.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
However, just now I sight read some music that had a change of meter from 3/4 to 6/8 and that left me perplexed. Should I play it so that the 8th notes remain constant or should I play it so that each beat is constant (in which case 6/8 would feel faster). I decided for the later but I don't know that it's the correct way. I played a bunch of pieces with frequent meter changes but I never learned any rule that says how the tempo should be kept. I guess I always relied on my teacher or my ears.
Listen to this famous number which has alternating 6/8 & 3/4 (a sort of 'horizontal hemiola'), typical of certain Latin dances. (Lenny claims it's a Huapango):



"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I'm wondering if there is a general rule for how the tempo should be kept through meter changes. For instance, I played a piece that had 7/8 time (3+4) and then when the meter changed to 6/8 I played it so that the 8th notes remained at a constant tempo but played one less per measure. That is usually how I deal with changing meters. However, just now I sight read some music that had a change of meter from 3/4 to 6/8 and that left me perplexed. Should I play it so that the 8th notes remain constant or should I play it so that each beat is constant (in which case 6/8 would feel faster). I decided for the later but I don't know that it's the correct way. I played a bunch of pieces with frequent meter changes but I never learned any rule that says how the tempo should be kept. I guess I always relied on my teacher or my ears.

Btw, I think I'm correct in saying that 7/8 has 3 stresses in it, not 2. So rather than 3+4 it's actually 3+2+2 (or 2+2+3).

Similarly, 5/8 has 2 stresses in it: 3+2 or 2+3.

With 3/4 to 6/8, they both have 6 quavers to a bar. What changes is where the stress lies and how we sub-divide the beat. So, in 3/4 the beat is subdivided into 2 (quavers), whereas in 6/8 each beat is subdivided into 3 (3 quavers to the dotted crotchet).

As bennevis just pointed out, America (from West Side Story), alternates between 6/8 and 3/4. The both have 6 quavers in a bar but what changes is where the stress lands in the bar.

Talking of odd metres, who can work out the time signature of this intro (no cheating!):


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Originally Posted by bennevis
[...]Listen to this famous number which has alternating 6/8 & 3/4 (a sort of 'horizontal hemiola'), typical of certain Latin dances. (Lenny claims it's a Huapango):


Here is a piano piece written by Jose Iturbi which uses the same alternating 6/8; 3/4 time signature. I have occasionally thought of using it as an encore.



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BruceD #3158188 09/20/21 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Here is a piano piece written by Jose Iturbi which uses the same alternating 6/8; 3/4 time signature. I have occasionally thought of using it as an encore.

Is the score available or published? I'd like to have a 'look' at it.
There's nothing on IMSLP.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
bennevis #3158224 09/21/21 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Here is a piano piece written by Jose Iturbi which uses the same alternating 6/8; 3/4 time signature. I have occasionally thought of using it as an encore.


Originally Posted by bennevis
Is the score available or published? I'd like to have a 'look' at it.

The score was published by G. Schirmer, Inc. New York, copyright 1934. Full title: "Pequeña Danza Española" (Dance of Spain) for piano by José Iturbi. (Price, 50 cents in U. S. A. )

Regards,

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It's interesting, perhaps the answer depends on whether you take compound metre to stand on its own or as a triplet version of simple metre. In the latter one could have a passage in which simple 3/4 becomes tripled to 9/8 without changing time signature, before actually changes to a notated 6/8. Then the answer depends on your understanding of compound metre.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Listen to this famous number which has alternating 6/8 & 3/4 (a sort of 'horizontal hemiola'), typical of certain Latin dances. (Lenny claims it's a Huapango):

Hemiola - is an important thing to clarify.



My teacher says it a Brahms used a lot and this was where I learnt the term. I can't remember any examples now!

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I dont think there is any hard rule. It really depends on how the music is written and the composer indications if any (could be metronome indications or tempo descriptions). It also depends if the rythmic structure of the bar remains the same or not.

Usually when for example mixing 3/4 and 6/8 in the same piece, often composers do indicate both meters and even can specifify to keep the 8th constant. In that case, the basic beat remains the same, but in 3/4 the tempo is faster than in 6/8. In that case the piece has a constant pulse but alternating tempos.

Another case is when there is one section in lets say 3/4 and then the next one in another meter with a different rythmic structure. Then indeed the question is whether one should keep the tempo the same of keep the basic beat/pulse.

For example in the 9th symphony, the scherzo is in 3/4 and B indicates dotted half at 116 then in the presto in 4/4 he gives whole note =116. Thus he keeps the same basic beat (pulse) and duration of each bar, but the rythm and the tempo are faster (the quarter note being shorter in duration). If you would keep the quarter note equal, then the effect would be the opposite. You would have the same tempo but the beat/pulse would be slower.

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The final thing I'll say about America is that it has two time sigs at the start of the section. It's actually written as "6/8 (3/4)" to show that you'll be alternating between stresses, which infers no change in tempo.

fatar760 #3158291 09/21/21 08:09 AM
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This is all very interesting. Thank you.

Originally Posted by fatar760
Talking of odd metres, who can work out the time signature of this intro (no cheating!):

OK, no cheating I swear. At the beginning I hear 3+3+3+4, so I suppose it's 13/8...

<searches online>

Yes, I got it right! smile

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
This is all very interesting. Thank you.

Originally Posted by fatar760
Talking of odd metres, who can work out the time signature of this intro (no cheating!):

OK, no cheating I swear. At the beginning I hear 3+3+3+4, so I suppose it's 13/8...

<searches online>

Yes, I got it right! smile

Yes! Well done smile

BruceD #3158439 09/21/21 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by bennevis
Is the score available or published? I'd like to have a 'look' at it.

The score was published by G. Schirmer, Inc. New York, copyright 1934. Full title: "Pequeña Danza Española" (Dance of Spain) for piano by José Iturbi. (Price, 50 cents in U. S. A. )
Thanks.
Looks like it's long been out of print. I found a used reprint for the equivalent of USD 17 here (including p&p), but for a 6-page short piece, that's exorbitant, so I think I'll wait until something cheaper turns up, as it always does........ whistle


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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