Bass Guitar Rhythm Tips: Time Signatures

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Play 3-4 Time on Bass Guitar....5

Read time signatures, noticing the beat-to-pulse ratio in a measure when playing bass guitar; learn how from our expert bass guitar player and teach in this free music instructional video.

Part of the Video Series: Advanced Bass Guitar Rhythm Techniques
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Video Transcript

CASEY CORMIER: Okay. So far we have really only encountered time signatures of 4/4 or called common time, which means four quarter-note beats per measure. Now there is a way of reading this is important because we are going to be encountering now different time signatures. So, you will notice with 4/4, this four indicated how many beats and this four indicated that our pulse was a quarter-note pulse. So, there will be 4 quarter notes in a measure. Now, with 3/4 you see we have 3 quarter notes within a measure, 5/4 would be 5 quarter notes in a measure. Then going back right here, look, 6/8. Well, what does this 8 signify? It signifies eighth notes, so now we have an eighth note pulse. We have 6 eighth notes in a measure. These two are very similar; I will demonstrate in a second. The 7 here will indicate 7 eighth notes in a measure. You would not really see a measure of 7 quarter notes because that will be a very long measure time wise. So really, 5/4, 7/4 sometimes, but mostly 7/8 will be used. Now, 3/4 here and 6/8; let us compare this really quickly. Three four will be counted as one, two, three, one, two, three. So, if we are going between A and G, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. That is how you count it. It will also be written with quarter notes, okay? Now, if we are playing 6/8, first of all it will be written with eighth notes, the regular pulse; one, two, three, four, five, six, one, two, three, four, five, six, one, two, three, four, five, six, one, two, three, four, five, six. You would not see a division of those two. They basically are chosen based on how the rhythm is played. A three rhythm is usually a little bit slower. One, two, three, one, two, three, one, and a 6/8 measure is a little bit faster. One, two, three, four, five, six, [PLAYS RHYTHM] one, two, three, four, five, six, one, two, three, four, five, six, one, two, three, four, five, six. Also, the way the phrases would be made to try to fit six beats of eighth notes in the one phrase. So you would notice the difference, you will notice them once you come across them. Just make sure you do not get them mixed up.

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