# How to count when bass and treble clefs share notes or chords

I'm totally new to piano. I have a background in guitar, programming and some math, therefore I tend to think a little in an "exact number of boxes" fashion or "an array of numbers" as in programming.

From the little I've learnt so far, I've become used to finding a complete subdivision of the time signature on each clef (bass and treble) such as this:

where it is very clear that both the bass clef can be divided into 8 eighth notes. The bass clef has 8 eighth notes and the treble clef has 8 eighth notes.

With some effort I could eventually figure out how to count and play this.

Now, in the following case:

I'm expecting to find 16 eighth notes on each clef, but I can't possibly figure out to match the notes+silences present to a 16 eighth note measure on each clef. The treble clef adds up to 12 eighth notes (4 eighths missing which are somehow equal to the bottom dotted quarter plus the subsequent eighth??).

The bass clef adds up to 10 eighth notes (6 eighths missing which are equal to the treble's eighth silence + subsequent eighth note chord + subsequent quarter note chord). You get the idea, and I assume the math is pointing somewhere very clear but I can't yet grasp how I would both clefs together.

I'm managing to play this part by listening to the recorded song, but without that aid I would have failed to figure out the proper rhythm. My attempt at re-writing the bass and treble parts as complete 16 eighth note measures failed completely.

• You’re miscounting. There are eight eighths in both staves, as expected. Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 15:49
• Maybe you've been confused by the fact that some of the notes "overlap"; e.g. the left hand changes halfway through a quarter note that the right hand is sustaining. You're on the right track to try writing it out as a measure full of eighth notes; perhaps post your attempt as a separate question and we can see what went wrong. (Also, why do we keep talking about "16 eighth notes on each clef"? There should be 8 in a measure.) Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 16:00
• To put it in programming terms: the treble of the first example is an array that contains some null elements. The second example contains only one null element, but it contains some that occupy more than one of the smallest unit; in an Excel sense, they're like "merged cells." But the two arrays aren't dependent on each other. Make sure you're counting each one accurately independently before you try to merge them. The results of merging treble with bass are simply the results of executing both independently and simultaneously. Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 16:14
• Thanks you guys for your answers. Sure I have this messed up in various ways. Yep, I was indeed confused by the overlaps. I was also messing up 8ths for 16ths because in some Spanish teaching methods 8th notes are called a "half time" note. Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 16:39