Changing Time Signatures

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by BrianT, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    Wantage, Oxfordshire
    I'm in the process of arranging 'Sussex Carol' for my Trainer Band (for the forthcoming Wantage Band Christmas CD - plug plug plug)

    As you know, the tune is in 6/8, and there are four phrases, the last one starting with a single 9/8 bar.

    Most of my band will never have come across a piece with mixed time signatures before. Come to that, they won't have seen a lot in 6/8 either.

    I'd appreciate some suggestions on how best to introduce and explain the idea of time changes to them so they don't develop a longstanding fear and suspicion of music theory and such, dismissing it as "too hard".

    Best I've got so far is to get the band to verbalise the rhythms - get them to say "one-and-a two-and-a" for the 6/8 bars and "one-and-a two-and-a three-and-a" for the 9/8...

    [This is prompted by my memories of my first encounter with 6/8 time when I was about 9, and just not getting it at all for a while. I wouldn't wish that on anyone else.]

    Suggestions please...
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Alternative tack if you really think that 9/8 may be a bit much for them - halve the bar length, double the note values, and write it all in 3/4.
  3. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    Oxford nowhere near the sea
    Genius!! :clap::clap:
  4. Super Ph

    Super Ph Member

    write it in 4/4, abusing dotted rhythms as appropriate, never getting the rhythm quite right, but never too far wrong that it can't be bluffed either. that seems to be the accepted norm for low grade brass band arrangements.
  5. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    The Sunny Isle of Wight
    Don't do this - please !!!
    If you've got them verbalising the rhythm it shouldn't be too difficult to get them to play it.
    Young players often learn and accept new times and rhythms easily. The sooner they learn to do it the better.
    Perhaps start them with an easy march style 6/8 piece to get them used to reading it.
    If you need help with suitable exercise PM me.
  6. Tubazz

    Tubazz Member

    Cant believe ,some of the above ,simply teach them the difference between compuond a simple time signatures ,thats the way i was taught at the age of 8yrs from the start use blackboard and chalk if need be
  7. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    Sheffield, UK
    I have to agree with Tubazz here. I find it better to drop them in at the deep end. You'd be surprised at how quickly even the most "beginner" musicians can pick up relatively simple issues like time signatures. Explain it to them clearly each week - explain what compound time is and that most bars are in 2 (groups of 3) except 1 in 3 (groups of 3). If you try to simplify it too much it could be more difficult later - as they are only used to seeing simple time.

    Fe things to consider:
    Take your time and do it in short bursts (i.e don't slog a whole rehearsal on it or put any pressure on them).
    Make sure you fully understand how it goes yourself and can sing/clap it to them clearly.
    Try some exercises to give them the feel of compound time.
    Make sure they play the first of the group with a bit of an accent (I usually over-egg this but it works).
    Try some other pieces - particularly short marches in 6/8 or similar.
    Don't be too disheartned if they don't get it - but there is still a while til Chrimbo so I'm sure plenty of time.

    best of luck.
  8. Tubazz

    Tubazz Member

    I may have been taught the old school way,but i was taught all the theory of music long before i ever played in any sort of trainer band etc.we were taught 3 at a time and was scales execises rythymns,and most important breathing etc, i was learned the c scale and then taught how to work out the rest of the scales,home work was work the next scale out and be able to play ther notes for next reharsal,it was tune a day tutor then the otto langy tutor 3 years later i got into the 4th section band on 2nd Baritone lol,i think it is very important that young plays a taught correctly from the beginig,today proberbly regarded as "old fashioned ways" butthere is no getting away from it
  9. TrumpetTom

    TrumpetTom Member

    Glagow/ Holmfirth
    Try turning every note of your carol into a quavour, and then filling the rests with quavours, if you get what I'm trying to say.
  10. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Same with punctuation, grammar and spelling? :cool:
  11. Tubazz

    Tubazz Member

    We all cant be perfect,we were talking music not english language ;) perhaps some musical advise next time lol
  12. johnsop

    johnsop Member

    I agree with Tubazz - teach it them now! If you explain it clearly, with good modelling (i.e. singing, playing and/or clapping) they will grasp it quite quickly!

    Another method might be to expose them to compound time signatures through listening to a song they might know (such as "Hallelujah" recently a number 1 by Alexandra Burke - I'm sure you can think of others). Get them to feel the pulse, by tapping it, as well as felling the strong beats and the weaker beats (as you described 1-and-a 2-and-a [and-a being the weaker beats]).

    If they still don't get it, "halve the bar length, double the note values, and write it all in 3/4" as MoominDave said. This shouldn't be necessary if they are given the concept in an easy-to-grasp fashion, with regular re-inforcement of the principles of compound time.

    Best of luck!
    John Atkinson
  13. berkshire_baritone

    berkshire_baritone Member

    Reading, Berkshire
    another idea i've seen used is to change easy 3/4 carols, (like away in a manger) into 6/8. do the normal one first a bit, then do the other one that has the same notes but just half the length. that way they kind of work it out for themself.

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