4

Usually when one verbally counts off a 4/4 piece it goes (% is a rest)

1 % 2 % 1 2 3 4

Or for quicker tempos

1 % % % 2 % % % 1 % 2 % 1 2 3 4

Does anyone know the standard way to count of a slow 3/4 waltz? I've been doing

1 % % 2 % % 1 2 3 4 5 6

but that seems too slow.

  • Why go up to 6, when the time is in 3? If it's a slow waltz, it needs to be counted slowly, but in time. Substitute '1,2,3' in place of '4,5,6'.Or, if you like, use '2,2,3'. 6/8 time is different, but is sometimes treated as the same, but quicker. – Tim Oct 29 '14 at 7:19
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    "An' a one, an' a two,..." (hoping someone recognizes the reference). More seriously, if this is what a bandleader is using to sync the group prior to the start of a piece, you might want to work on everyone's sense of time. String quartets (or trios, or octets) typically take at most one up-beat from the leader and dive right in. – Carl Witthoft Oct 29 '14 at 13:29
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    @CarlWitthoft - I've never understood why a 100 piece orchestra only needs an upbeat, whereas a 4 piece pop group needs 2 whole bars. Still, it beats the choir mistress at a school who counted a waltz in to 1-2-3-4 - honest ! – Tim Oct 29 '14 at 18:23
  • @CarlWitthoft Counting off is a common practice in jazz, because it sets up not just the tempo but also the feel and style. Everyone has to be completely locked in to the tempo and feel from the first beat. This is different from in classical string music, where everyone can sort of adjust as the piece starts to what others are doing. – 6005 Oct 30 '14 at 1:43
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    @Goos - counting 1-2-1234 doesn't give any clue to feel or style. It gives tempo. It's still necessary to establish whether a piece is straight or swing before the count in. An orchestra cannot 'sort of adjust' at the beginning of a piece, although the musos will generally be of a calibre that they know exactly how a piece will start, having rehearsed. But bands rehearse too... – Tim Oct 30 '14 at 7:41
4

If you need a two-bar count, the one I'm used to is just
a-1, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3 (can also be used for 6/8, depending on tempo)

[the first 'a' giving the 'swing, last triplet' pickup if the piece swings, otherwise it's left out.]

  • Thanks, this is what I was looking for. Actually I've heard this used before but I had forgotten it. – 6005 Oct 29 '14 at 5:56

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