How can I count this example? I am having a hard time figuring it out.

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In my example, play A and B. C should then be easy.

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  • I wonder if the piece uses 3/8+3/8+2/8 or3/8+3/8+2/8+4/4 as its primary metrical pattern? If so, the examples might benefit from 3+3+2 beaming. Perhaps some other part is playing on the first eight-note of each group of three?
    – supercat
    Jun 8 '20 at 16:15
  • Nice way to break it down. @supercat to me it looks like a figure horns would play on a swing tune. Jun 8 '20 at 16:40
  • @JohnBelzaguy: If another instrument is playing on beats 1.0, 2.5, and 4.0, that would favor the 3/8+3/8+2/8 theory, though judging what pattern is applicable would require knowing more of the musical context (e.g. does another instrument get this same pattern in the next bar?)
    – supercat
    Jun 8 '20 at 16:47
  • @supercat I really don’t know, I’m not the OP. Lawrence broke it down so the OP can see exactly where in the bar the hits go. This figure would be a nice counter rhythm to a 3-3-2 rhythm but this bar is all the info available to us. I imagine this as a horn section playing this figure in harmony over a swing groove. Guess we’ll never know! Jun 8 '20 at 17:07
  • Although it could occur in many styles of music, its certainly a standard jazz/swing figure. Jun 8 '20 at 23:25

If it is 4/4 time then you want to count "one and two and three and four and", so it goes like this:

eighth rest - "one"
eighth note - "and'
quarter rest - "two and"
dotted quarter note - "three and four"
eighth note - "and"


Rather than just supplying an answer, which won't particularly help any other questions that are similar, I'll supply a nice simple way to achieve what you want.

In 4/4 time, there's room for eight quavers (eighth notes - called such because eight of them just fill one bar); one crotchet (quarter note) is worth two counts, and because a dot after a note makes it half as long again, it's worth a count of three.

So - the quaver rest and the follwing quaver get one count each.

The crotchet rest gets a count of two.

The dotted crotchet gets a three count, leaving just one count (the number 8) for the remaining quaver. I used to find it helped to actually write the numbers out, over the dots. Not enough room? Then write it all out wider!


counting 1 2 3 4 or 1 a 2 a 3 a 4 a ... you play: (1) a (2) (a) 3 a 4 a

or singing da da da da (= 1 2 3 4) and daba daba daba daba (= 1 a 2 a 3 a 4 a)

it's just: (da) ba (da ba ) da ba da ba ...

(da) are mute beats

  • I think the easiest way is to interpret the eighth note as an advanced beat 2 and then add the dotted quarter and eighth note on 3 4 and Jun 7 '20 at 16:01
  • This is inaccurate, as it implies that the dotted-quarter is only played as an eighth note, when it should in fact be held over the following "(ba) (da)". Jun 8 '20 at 13:52
  • @ Darrel: That’s true! I’ve edited my answer according your critic. Jun 8 '20 at 15:51

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