Counting (music) - Methods

Methods

The method involving numbers may termed count chant, "to identity it as a unique instructional process."

In lieu of simply counting the beats of a measure, other systems can be used which may be more appropriate to the particular piece of music. Depending on the tempo, the divisions of a beat may be vocalized as well (for slower times), or skipping numbers altogether (for faster times). As an alternative to counting, a metronome can be used to accomplish the same function.

Triple meter, such as 3/4, is often counted 1 2 3, while compound meter, such as 6/8, is often counted in two and subdivided "One-and-ah-Two-and-ah" but may be articulated as "One-la-lee-Two-la-lee". For each subdivision employed a new syllable is used. For example, sixteenth notes in 4/4 are counted 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a, using numbers for the quarter note, "&" for the eighth note, and "e" and "a" for the sixteenth note level. Triplets may be counted "1 tri ple 2 tri ple 3 tri ple 4 tri ple" and sixteenth note triplets "1 la li + la li 2 la li + la li" (presumably saying "up" or "plus" for "+"). Quarter note triplets, due to their different rhythmic feel, may be articulated differently as "1 dra git 3 dra git".

Rather than numbers or nonsense syllables, a random word may be assigned to a rhythm to clearly count each beat. An example is with a triplet, so that a triplet subdivision is often counted "tri-pl-et". The Kodály Method uses "Ta" for quarter notes and "Ti-Ti" for eighth notes. For sextuplets simply say triplet twice (see Sextuplet rhythm.png), while quintuplets may be articulated as "un-i-vers-i-ty". In some approaches, "rote-before-note", the fractional definitions of notes are not taught to children until after they are able to perform syllable or phrase-based versions of these rhythms.

"However the counting may be syllabized, the important skill is to keep the pulse steady and the division exact."

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