If you found counting to four to be fairly straightforward, this lesson should actually be easier because there’s one less note to count. Counting to three or counting triplets is useful when working with time signatures such as 3/4, 6/8, or 12/8. There’s a difference in time feel between each of these signatures, and the examples below will hopefully shed some light on the various ways to count them.

It’s important to remember that time signatures are not equivalent to math fractions. So don’t try to apply math theory when working with these rhythmic structures. The first number indicates the number of notes contained in one bar of music. The second number indicates the time duration of each note. Both numbers together provide some insight as to the ‘time feel’ of the song’s rhythm.

3/4 Signature: This is the simplest of the three signatures on this page. Each bar or measure of music consists of three quarter notes.


6/8 Signature: Although this may appear to be mathematically related to 3/4 at a fraction level, it’s a completely different time feel. It consists of six eighth notes with emphasis usually on the one and four count (the red blocks), which basically means there’s two pulses within each bar. It can be counted in a few different ways as shown below, but the end result is the same.

6/8 counting method 1:


6/8 counting method 2:


6/8 counting method 3:


Another popular counting method is 1-TRIP-LET, 2-TRIP-LET, etc.

12/8 Signature: Consisting of twelve eight notes, this signature has a similar feel to 6/8, because it’s basically two bars of 6/8 squished into one bar. However, this means there are usually four pulses within one bar.

12/8 counting method 1:


12/8 counting method 2:


Once again, another popular counting method is 1-TRIP-LET, 2-TRIP-LET, 3-TRIP-LET, 4-TRIP-LET, etc. It really all depends on your preference.

We are slowly working our way to the building blocks of rhythm. Now that you’re a counting expert, you should be well prepared for the next phase of fundamentals.

Stay tuned.

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