2

I know in the 6/8 compound meter, the first beat gets strong downbeat and the second beat gets the weak upbeat. But I am trying to analyze syncopation in a piece, so I want to know how each of the three subdivisions of each beat assigned as strong/weak ?

3
6 | V ^ ^ v ^ ^ |
8 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 |

6/8 compound time can be thought of as duple meter consisting of two beats to the measure, where the dotted quarter note gets the beat. 6/8 is just a notational simplification -- if Carl Orff's time signatures had caught on we might call this time signature 2/q. (a two on top of a dotted quarter note).

I consider an upbeat to be a subdivision that does not occur on a foot tap. So, according to the diagram above, there are two downbeats (1 and 4 of the subdivision) and four upbeats. The downbeat at the beginning of the measure, obviously, is the stronger one.

Of the upbeats, 3 and 6 are stronger than 2 and 5 because they lead into the next downbeat. If someone mentions "the upbeat on beat 1" for example, they are talking about subdivision 3. While 2 is still technically an upbeat, the "default" mode would be the 3 and 6. If you compare the following two rhythms, you'll find one feels much more natural than the other:

6 |: q   e q   e :|: e q   e q   :|
8 |: 1 2 3 4 5 6 :|: 1 2 3 4 5 6 :|
  • Did you mean to write that the downbeats are 1 and 4 ? So, the pattern would essentially be : Strong Weak Weak Strong Weak Weak ? – quickCoder Mar 29 '15 at 23:07
  • Exactly! Thanks for pointing out the typo -- and another one. My fingers wanted to count by twos! – NReilingh Mar 29 '15 at 23:07

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.