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Thread: Counting Dotted 8th notes

  1. #1

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    Default Counting Dotted 8th notes

    Being primarily a hand drummer, I have put off learning to sight read music (more appropriately rhythm). A lot of what I have done has been in a box notation similar to drum tabs. But, I found that to be a bit limiting and wanted to add standard music notation to my skill set. I have been working with my instructor and have been going great guns until I hit these silly dotted 8th notes! Right now I am counting them as 1e+a and playing the 1 and 'a' points. However, having that gap in the middle I don't play, but still count is kind of throwing me. How do you recommend counting this particular note?:

    1e+a
    X--X

    thanks in advance
    ---- If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum. - chinese proverb

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Counting Dotted 8th notes

    That's an excellent question, Midgard and the answer is quite simple. Since the drum is not a long sustain musical instrument like a trumpet, you don't really get to hear the length of a drum note. You have the correct count of the dotted eight and 16th pattern which is also known as the "Shuffle" beat. There are two ways to count: Long count and Short count. The Long count as is you described where you count the full count of each note that you play. Here, you play on count 1 and count that note as 1-e-& and then you play the last note and count is as a: X. X
    1 e & a
    Until you become comfortable with this, practice slowly with the Long count. As you gain speed and play the pattern faster, you can then use the Short count which is counting only the notes you play: X. X.
    1(e-&) a
    The "e &" is still part of count "1" but are silent. you only count, and always count out louyd, the notes you will play. This is very important...you must count out loud so you can hear the count and listen the duration of each note. Eventually, this will become internalized and you will keep the count in your head only and no longer out loud. So, to write both the long and short count:
    x. x x. x x. x x. x
    1-e-&-a 2-e-&-a 3-e-&-a 4-e-&-a (Long Count)

    x. x x. x x. x x. x (Short Count)
    1 a 2 a 3 a 4 a

    As you play this pattern faster, you will understand why it's called the Shuffle as it sounds like this: dah da Dah da Dah da Dah da.

    This is used quite often when playing Blues but, it's not exactly right. to play the Blues correctly, you have to think in Triplet pattern: 1-Trip-Let 2-Trip-Let 3-Trip-Let 4-Trip-Let etc.

    x x x x x x x x (Long count)
    1-T-L 2-T-L 3-T-L 4-T-L
    x x x x x x x x (Short count)
    1 a 2 a 3 a 4 a
    Notice that we use the same short count for both rythm patterns but the rhythmic feel is different. It is the Triplet pattern that is used for Blues, R&B, Swing playing. Consult with your teacher about this. As I recall, my teacher first introduced me to the Shuffle pattern. It was much later, as I began to understand "Counting," that I got into Triplet patterns. This is why, as you read my posts, I always encourage learning how to read music which is exactly what you are doing. When you can understand the theory behind countinbg and reading music, you can then play anything and compose anything. Keep up the good work.

    PS: As I reviewed this, I can see there is a problem with writing this out correctly. I suggest that you take this to you teacher for clarification.
    Last edited by fiacovaz; 04-12-2008 at 11:03 AM.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Counting Dotted 8th notes

    Thank you fiacovaz! That was very helpful. Learning to read music is really helping me in the counting and does wonders for locking in syncopated beats. It is so easy for an "a" or an "e" to slide to the one, especially when the one is not played.

    I will do as you recommend here - take it slow and do the long counts until I have a really good feel for where the "a" falls in the measure. Once I get that down, I can move to the short counting of 1 a2 a3 a4 ...

    I have been playing some with "swinging" straight rhytms, which as you explain is more of a triplet feel, but at this point it is more of a "feeling" than an actual intellectual understanding The mnemonic I use is "car, park the car, park the car..." lol! Got to love mnemoics
    ---- If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum. - chinese proverb

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Counting Dotted 8th notes

    Quote Originally Posted by fiacovaz View Post
    That's an excellent question, Midgard and the answer is quite simple. Since the drum is not a long sustain musical instrument like a trumpet, you don't really get to hear the length of a drum note. You have the correct count of the dotted eight and 16th pattern which is also known as the "Shuffle" beat. There are two ways to count: Long count and Short count. The Long count as is you described where you count the full count of each note that you play. Here, you play on count 1 and count that note as 1-e-& and then you play the last note and count is as a: X. X
    1 e & a
    Until you become comfortable with this, practice slowly with the Long count. As you gain speed and play the pattern faster, you can then use the Short count which is counting only the notes you play: X. X.
    1(e-&) a
    The "e &" is still part of count "1" but are silent. you only count, and always count out louyd, the notes you will play. This is very important...you must count out loud so you can hear the count and listen the duration of each note. Eventually, this will become internalized and you will keep the count in your head only and no longer out loud. So, to write both the long and short count:
    x. x x. x x. x x. x
    1-e-&-a 2-e-&-a 3-e-&-a 4-e-&-a (Long Count)

    x. x x. x x. x x. x (Short Count)
    1 a 2 a 3 a 4 a

    As you play this pattern faster, you will understand why it's called the Shuffle as it sounds like this: dah da Dah da Dah da Dah da.

    This is used quite often when playing Blues but, it's not exactly right. to play the Blues correctly, you have to think in Triplet pattern: 1-Trip-Let 2-Trip-Let 3-Trip-Let 4-Trip-Let etc.

    x x x x x x x x (Long count)
    1-T-L 2-T-L 3-T-L 4-T-L
    x x x x x x x x (Short count)
    1 a 2 a 3 a 4 a
    Notice that we use the same short count for both rythm patterns but the rhythmic feel is different. It is the Triplet pattern that is used for Blues, R&B, Swing playing. Consult with your teacher about this. As I recall, my teacher first introduced me to the Shuffle pattern. It was much later, as I began to understand "Counting," that I got into Triplet patterns. This is why, as you read my posts, I always encourage learning how to read music which is exactly what you are doing. When you can understand the theory behind countinbg and reading music, you can then play anything and compose anything. Keep up the good work.

    PS: As I reviewed this, I can see there is a problem with writing this out correctly. I suggest that you take this to you teacher for clarification.
    Hola como estas FIAVOCAZ*FRANK Creative Artistic DRUMMER
    (CAT) FRANK our sustain is our Rolls ,as in 4-4METER the whole NOTE with
    3 little lines above it is as you know a Long roll & the HALF NOTE & ETC.
    so our MUSIC & the DRUMS DO do alot of SUSTAIN & our CYMBALS as the CREATIVE ARTIST Accents within the COMPOSITIONS or JUSt SOLOING /performing ALOT OF ROLLS & they are sustained in different ways
    of The ACTUAL TEXTURED Dynamic SOUNDS TONES..I just wanted too express this FRANK**I know that Your Aware of this **GRACIAS

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Counting Dotted 8th notes

    Hola como estas MIDGARD CREATIVE ARTISTIC ARTIST DRUMMER(CAT) QUESTION Do you KNOW HOW the ACTUAL FEEL IS for PERFORMING THE Shuffle RHYTHMS ,,**to count the Dotted EIGHT NOTES is in 4-4 METER think in the WAY of SIXTEENTH NOTES 1E&A2E&A3E&A4E&A NOW that
    you have this going NOW just BREAK it DOWN in A STRUCTURED WAY so THAT With ONE HAND YOUR LEFT HAND is your VOICE on the SNARE or YOUR CONGA ,BONGO ,TABLA ,what ever you choose,
    AND as you COUNT &COUNT OUT LOUD so you hear
    your VOICE **so THE FIRST DOTTED EIGHT NOTE
    is #1 the #2second NOTE WILL be A16th NOTE & FALL on in the SEQUENCE of when your Counting ON the LAST (A)
    so the SPACE from THE ACTUAL 1st NOTE is in measure-Ment of NOTE VALUE is 1 eight notE & 1/2
    of the EIGHT NOTE WHICH is A 16tH NOTE of time **
    so THINK LIKE THE OLD CLASSIC KANAS CITY SHUFFLE BLUS FEEL I hope that THIS HELPS You
    __________________
    STICKS WIZZARD DRAGON the ENCHANTMENT OF SPIRITUAL ARTISTIC PASSION

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