View Full Version : Couting 32nd notes

08-26-2002, 07:56 AM
Hi all,

Recently, I received quite a few emails asking on how to count 32nd notes.

16th notes divide a beat into 4 and usually we count them like
1 e and e 2 e and e etc ...

Now, 32nds divide a beat into 8, so twice as much as the 16th notes.
Based on how we count 16th we could count like this:
1 e and e and e and e 2 e and e and e and e etc ....

In general I think that when counting odd or high numbered sub divisions of a beat it's best to use some phrases or sentences.

Maybe ya have heard that subdivisions of 5 are counted with the word dallapiccola (dal - la - pic - co - la). (Dallapiccola was an Italian Composer...)

You could apply this aproach to 32nd notes:
1 e and e and e and e
These are quite a hell lot of notes
I Breathe Mu sic is so damn cool
Well, these are maybe too tough to be repeated quickly but you can come up with something that fits you better.


Bongo Boy
08-30-2002, 04:09 AM

...or maybe just spring the $20 for a metronome and save the embarassment.

Why would anyone want or need to do this?

08-30-2002, 09:45 AM
hehe, well you should get the metronome in any way. What is important is that someone learns to feel the subdevisions of the beat.

Say your metronome gives you the quarter notes. Now it is very important to learn how to switch between quarter notes, 8th notes and 16th.

And counting the changes is a big help. Using 1 e and e for 16th for example. It's a kind of solfege approach.

Now why would I count 32nds. erm... actually never :-)

Once you master to switch to double speed, ie 8th to 16th, you will be able to switch from 16th to 32nds. So rhythm becomes a matter of feel.....


NP: Larry Carlton 'Last Nite'

08-30-2002, 12:47 PM
Guni, I agree...

When I started working on stuff like playing 16th notes and 32nd notes with the metronom, I tried to do it the "half time"-way...

Like, if I was at a tempo of 70 bpm and played triplets and 16th notes. When I wanted to play sixtuplets and 32nd notes, I doubled the tempo ( to 140 ) and again played sixtuplets and 16th notes... I had to play them twice as fast , but to me, it was easier to count. Like, at 80 bpm, I had to count 32nd notes by babbling "1 e and e and e and e" between ever beat. It sometimes was tough to have all the notes be even. So instead I doubled the tempo at the metronome and played 16th notes.
I mean, yes, the tempo is the same for 32nds at 70 and 16ths at 140, but to me, it was easier to count and stay in time that way.
And to distribute the notes evenly between the single beats
Well, maybe itīs just me... :)

The Bash
08-30-2002, 09:22 PM
I agree on both counts
they are both good approaches that I think everyone should have a grasp on when counting Ugly looking stuff :)

I tend to do as Eric suggested (that is make the met. work for you).
the same is true in reverse for working up licks
if you find you can only play a 16th note triplet lick
cleanly at 40 well...It's hard feeling anything at 40 so
play triplets at 80 and work it up that way till you get round 120 then go back to sixteenth note triplets at 60.

08-30-2002, 10:51 PM
The Bash,

that is EXACTLY what I meant, thanks. It is tough to play some stuff at a slow tempo. "Canyon Of Spirits" has a tempo of 60 bpm, but the click in the studio was set to 120, because it was a bit easier for my drummer and me that way. It just was tough to play evenly distributed fast notes or anything at 60 bpm.


03-31-2006, 02:36 AM
Eureka!!! I got it--how to count 32nd notes. I was looking for how and I googled and came upon this site and I read a forum that addressed the issue which said that there is no real convention for counting 32nd notes. How about this one:

1-count-ing-thir-ty-sec-ond-notes, 2-count-ing-thir-ty-sec-ond-notes, 3-count-ing-thir-ty-sec-ond-notes, 4-count-ing-thir-ty-sec-ond-notes, etc.

I should have gone on that new inventor's show on ABC with this one. :)

03-31-2006, 03:22 AM
Hey Distinguished, welcome to ibreathe. Glad you found this helpful and that is a good way to remember how to count!

03-31-2006, 11:32 AM
This deserves a "Resurrected thread of the month" award. I clicked on the link and thought "Gee, Guni started a thread ?"
I wish he had more time to be around, he offers great advice, but of course Iīm happy for him and Clive, as theyīre busy with all those projects

03-31-2006, 11:56 AM
Yeah that one comes straight outta hell ^^ I couldn't believe it when I saw a first post by Guni.

/me still cherishes his printed guitar4u articles.

03-31-2006, 12:18 PM
Sigh, Guitar4U, that brings back some memories... the good ol days, with the pdfs. The articles I wrote for G4U were some of the very first ones I had written. I still have them saved on a CD R somewhere... Iīm glad though that theyīre nto available anymore, since I revised them for ibreathe, and the articles I wrote for this site are quite a lot better than the old ones.

03-31-2006, 12:31 PM
The pdf's, right. You guys had me download Acrobat Reader on a 56k modem. It took quite a while. Considered finding a cure for cancer while waiting.

When I first saw your Art of Practicing and Sweeping (if I remember correctly) articles on guitar4u I thought "oh man, now they are going to ruin this great site with articles I've already read a million times on other sites, with the same licks from REH vids I've already watched". Well I'm glad you proved me wrong. I actually enjoyed READING your articles and working through the examples you provided !!

03-31-2006, 12:41 PM
Wow thanks !
The articles still were a testing ground for me, and there might have been some REH licks in there indeed. But it feels good to hear that you liked them and that they didnīt seem to be too cliche.
Thanks !

03-31-2006, 12:46 PM
You're welcome !

Even if I obviously knew some of them (practicing technique has some foundations you can't ignore), it was the writing that held it all together. They were here for a reason, as opposed to other articles about speed where you have a two line introduction, then 1 2 3 4 fingering variations, then the PG lick, then out of nowhere a monstrous 4 notes per string lick with a 3 octave sweeped arpeggio at the end.

03-31-2006, 12:55 PM
I tried to avoid that on purpose, thanks for pointing it out. I did so mainly because I saw students getting frustrated about articles like that.
Like "Hey guys, itīs time to pump up your picking skills, so here are my 32 favorite picking licks... see ya next week"
I mean, I know that some players are not fond of explaining everything to the slightest detail, and sometimes you donīt have to, or shouldnīt ( even though I usually go into details quite a bit when I teach, I also want the student to develop the ability to figure out things himself eventually ), but I figured that at some point, to get the reader started, a bit of explaining would be helpful.
There are SO many things to consider and try out, and sometimes you miss important, yet small, factors, and develop and get used to something that is not exactly good technique... so you might have to "unlearn" it later on, which is time-consuming.
That, and some other considerations, were the reason for all the explanation around the licks. It helps to be a smart-allick, too =)

03-31-2006, 06:32 PM
For quintuplets I use "op-por-tu-ni-ty".

And if you dial a mobile number from a phone, then it goes "beep-beep-bep-beep-bep-beep-beep-bep-beep-bep-beep" it's actually an eleven note grouping, since mobile phone numbers have eleven digits?

That's how I count eleven note groupings, if I ever have to. Which isn't very often, to be honest... lol


04-12-2006, 05:59 AM
But I thought we all mastered counting back in elementary school lol, yes making the metronome work for you is great, because counting 32nd notes = ?!

02-03-2008, 07:28 AM
i like and use this approach

16th 1 e & a 2 e....

32nd 1 ta e ta & ta a ta 2 ta e ta....

heres my background, i'm a drummer and i focus mostly on quads(if you don't know, its the marching drum with at least four drums in front of you)where 32nds are all over the place

if the tempo's really slow then count it all the way down to the 32nds

but if it's fast then just count 16ths and "feel" the divisions

02-05-2008, 10:32 AM
I don't like using words or syllables . . . partially because I'm accustomed to playing much faster than I can talk :P and because words and phrases imply a rhythm that's often syncopated, not even, because of the natural rhythm of the language. I use mnemonic phrases to memorize polyrhythms . . . but you have to work with them carefully to make them naturally fit the actual rhythm.
Of course, most of my mnemonics are offensive and profane ^.^

02-05-2008, 12:13 PM
For 32'nds I use "chicken chokin' mother f***in'."

02-05-2008, 02:07 PM
For 32'nds I use "chicken chokin' mother f***in'."

Ahahahahahaaa! ROFL :p
I think I may have to use this, some words/phrases just are easier to remember and roll of the tongue smoother. And I can use the second half for 16ths!