9

I am aware of the basic beats like 4/4, 6/8, 2/4, and so on. However, I am not quite sure what happens with this division.

  • 9
    It depends on the particular piece. Can you post more information about the specific context where you encountered 11/16? – Aaron Jul 14 at 15:35
  • 3
    Assuming you don't have a particular piece in mind... You can do whatever division you want. I did some experimentation and found that accenting 1, 5, and 9 sounded kind of cool. Almost like 7/8 but longer and faster? – EricNie Jul 14 at 16:12
  • 1
    I have written a piece in 11/8, but I have never seen a sheet music in 11/16, can you post us an example where you encountered that problem? – Albrecht Hügli Jul 15 at 16:30
28

In any meter, beats are grouped by twos and threes. Some meters leave no options, because, for example, the only way you can reach a sum of 4 with 2 and 3 is 2 + 2.

The order of this grouping is not fixed, so, for example, 5/8 can be 3 + 2 or 2 + 3.

(One could consider that 6/8 can be 3 + 3 or 2 + 2 + 2, but by convention the latter pattern is notated as 3/4 instead. Similarly, 8/8 can be 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 or 3 + 3 + 2, but both patterns are typically notated as 4/4.)

Once you get into higher numbers, the groups of three and two can appear in almost any permutation, so for 11/16, it could be, in any order, a total of four groups of two and a group of three or one group of two and three groups of three:

  • 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2
  • 2 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 2
  • 2 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 2
  • 2 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 2
  • 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 3
  • 3 + 3 + 3 + 2
  • 3 + 3 + 2 + 3
  • 3 + 2 + 3 + 3
  • 2 + 3 + 3 + 3

Because of this ambiguity, composers will often use some way of indicating the desired grouping. They might write it into the time signature, or they might use accent marks.

| improve this answer | |
  • Groupings are also often indicated by where tied notes are used (ties go across groupings) and bars on groups of quavers (bars will break across groupings) – Judy N. Jul 14 at 16:48
  • 1
    Very clear and thorough answer, +1. Another way of showing groupings is beaming 8th or 16th notes together in groups corresponding to the subdivisions. – John Belzaguy Jul 14 at 20:00
  • 2
    @BobBroadley no I mean ties – how you might split up a single note so as to indicate the groupings. Of course (thanks to the last comment) I meant "beams" on groups of quavers – Judy N. Jul 14 at 21:20
  • 1
    Note also that the groupings can change in a piece. The most famous example is probably the finale from Stravinsky's Firebird Ballet, which is in 7/4 and switches fairly freely between 3+2+2 and 2+2+3. – Michael Seifert Jul 15 at 15:26
  • 1
    A group can also be 4 beats, not a pair of 2 beat groups. If you listen to Narnia / The man from Nazareth, this is quite obvious: It groups a measure of 16/16 into the pattern 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 4. The last group in this pattern is not a pair of 2 + 2 but rather an elongated group of 3, i.e. a true group of 4. Otherwise, this answer is next to perfect. – cmaster - reinstate monica Jul 16 at 8:02
0

Notate what it's meant to be - by the summands: e.g. instead of 11/8 you write 5/8 + 6/8 right after the clef and key signature.

The subdivisions can also be printed in vertically dashed barlines.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    But 11/16 is a thing, and the piece may not always use the same internal subdivisions from bar to bar. Eastern European traditional music is just one example. As suggested elsewhere the better alternative is to notate the bars showing the internal emphases with beams and ties. – Steve Mansfield Jul 15 at 6:26
  • 1
    It could be this, but it's not the only way. And, 5/16 and 6/16 can and probably will be split into 2s and/or 3s. – Tim Jul 15 at 10:55
  • 2
    That‘s why I say: e.g. (phoog has mentioned all permutations). – Albrecht Hügli Jul 15 at 12:59
  • Or indicated by the beams connecting the eights notes. – cmaster - reinstate monica Jul 16 at 8:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.