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Thread: 4/3 Time Signature

  1. #1
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    4/3 Time Signature

    I've been trying to put my head around how to play 4/3 on drums, and I just can't figure it out.

    Can anyone please assist?

  2. #2
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Never heard of 4/3 time signature. Sure that's what it say?

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    A friend of mine introduced me to it. It's called an irrational time signature.

    Here's a basic explanation of it which makes sense but I still can't seem to understand how to play it...

    "Where 4/4 implies a bar construction of four quarter-parts of a whole note (i.e., four quarter notes), 4/3 implies a bar construction of four third-parts of it."

    I asked him about it and he himself doesn't understand it yet. I was hoping to get some help and beat him to it.

  4. #4
    Registered User Joe Pass Jr's Avatar
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    Sounds strange. I guess this would sound similar to a bar of 4/4 with 3 1/4 notes played as a triplet. I cant say I have ever heard this put to any real use other than in a drum solo, even then it would still be in 4/4.

    I'm keen to find out if theres more to it.
    Its not the techniques you use, but the music you make.

  5. #5
    Internet Superstar Rivorus's Avatar
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    You would play it no different from how you would play in 4/4 (just like how you play 4/8 the same way you'd play 4/4). Really, the only reason why you might ever desire such a */3 signature with would be if midsong you had a time change where triplets now steal the beat but there was no change in tempo (especially if this happens in the middle of a section, where notating a time and tempo change could be even more confusing than seeing 4/3). Even then, there are usually better alternatives such as scaling the meters of the rest of your piece such that the */3 instead becomes */4, */8, etc.

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    What do you mean by "where triplets now steal the beat but there was no change in tempo"?

    Pardon my lack of being able to visualize how that works. =(

    Perhaps an example if you can find or make one? =D
    Last edited by Ashedfog; 09-05-2007 at 03:17 AM.

  7. #7
    Internet Superstar Rivorus's Avatar
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    In other words, you are in some meter */4 for a given section, but one phrase in that section extends out to be longer than the rest by 4 triplet note durations. In order to most concisely represent this, without going back and rewriting the meter in the rest of the section, is to jump to 4/3, as this gives you a measure of the exact length you need to tack on. I'll write up an example, one second.

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    Oh wow. That makes a lot of sense! That example will prolly just reinforce what you mean but I think I get it! Would it work the same for other irrational time signatures like */6 and */9?

  9. #9
    Registered User ernzzz's Avatar
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    could it be that in a 4/3, one could place three 8th notes with dot?

    i dont know if that could be played, but mentally three 8th dotted notes makes sense to me..

    Rivorus, could you please explain further examples, or explain with other words this extension you will add "by 4 triplet note durations"?
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    what do you mean by "three 8th DOTTED notes"? What is a dotted note?

  11. #11
    Registered User ernzzz's Avatar
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    a dot is placed just after a note, to alter it, adding half of its time duration..

    a 4rth dotted note will last as much as a 4rth plus an 8th note..

    an 8th dotted note, will last as much as an 8th plus a 16th note
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  12. #12
    Internet Superstar Rivorus's Avatar
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    Scratch the written example since Sibelius doesn't seem to have support for irrational signatures!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashedfog
    Oh wow. Would it work the same for other irrational time signatures like */6 and */9?
    Yes, but again, you generally won't see any of this often, since in practice, the music can often be rewritten to avoid such odd notation.

    Here's a quick example of */12.

    Assume you have a piece written in 3/4, where you are often dealing with beats that may be subdivided into triplets. Even though each beat can be broken into 3rds, you chose to write it in 3/4 instead of 9/8 since there are polyrhythms and you think triplets look friendlier than duplets.

    Now, what happens if your music all of a sudden has a measure that is as long as 4 of those triplet notes? This means that your additional measure now has the odd length of 4/12! If it is unclear why that is, it's because in previous measures you had quarter notes divided into triplets. That's 1/4 * 1/3 == 1/12 (in other words, 12 of those notes fits into a whole note -- 3 per quarter note with 4 quarter notes per whole note).

    But what if, instead, you had used 9/8 instead of 3/4 to begin with. You no longer have triplets, but instead may have some duplets, and now, that additional meaure is just the length of 4 eigth notes so your time change is simply 9/8 to 4/8, which is much less scary than */12.

    Quote Originally Posted by ernzzz
    could it be that in a 4/3, one could place three 8th notes with dot?
    4/3 is a measure consisting of 4 triplets notes, where there are three of those notes per whole note.

    Quote Originally Posted by ernzzz
    Rivorus, could you please explain further examples, or explain with other words this extension you will add "by 4 triplet note durations"?
    Done and done I might try Finale tomorrow and see if it has support for irrational time signatures, in which case I'll upload a quick written example.

  13. #13
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    neato

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    This just shows how much theory I have in my books, what is a duplet?

    I understand what a triplet is and how it's played but I've not heard or played a duplet before.


    I just found this video on youtube, is this what a duplet really is? Just two notes per beat?

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=eb7M__ziyJ4
    Last edited by Ashedfog; 09-05-2007 at 06:33 AM.

  15. #15
    Internet Superstar Rivorus's Avatar
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    A duplet is just a tuplet of two, as opposed to a triplet which is a tuplet of 3. In 9/8, if you have a duplet per beat, you have 6 notes per measure. Each note in that case is just a dotted 8th note in length, though depending on context, you may see it notated as two 8th notes in a bracket with a small two over it (similar to a triplet or quintuplet, etc). In particular, you may see this during a polyrhythm or during hemiola since it more clearly shows that you are changing from division of the beat in 3s to a division of the beat in 2s.

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