# Notating rhythms in 6/8

I've been composing in 6/8, and come up with this, but the notation I've used looks a little messy and it's not something I've seen used anywhere else, is there a better, perhaps easier to read way of notating this (e.g. by converting the notes in the left hand into groups of 4 sextuplets and writing it in 4/4):

... Or is this acceptable as it is?

• Do you want a compound time march feel? 6/8 normally has a slightly different feel from 4/4 with triplets/sextuplets or 12/8. If you don't want the march/2-time feel, then you could try 12/8. You could instead double the values of every note and replace single measures with two measures (i.e., dotted eights would become dotted quarters, 32nd notes would become 16ths, etc, and you would have six measures instead of three). – Todd Wilcox Jun 14 '16 at 15:43
• Well , In the first and second bar, every 6th note in the left hand is accented, but in the third, it's every 3, so that's what made me think it would look better in 4/4, especially since i know I've seen similar things in music like this: youtube.com/watch?v=yQw3DvqEbxI – Cubbs Jun 14 '16 at 15:52
• How do you span the first l.h. notes? Play the top one r.h? – Tim Jun 14 '16 at 16:10
• Yeah i use both hands through the whole first bar. – Cubbs Jun 14 '16 at 16:13
• Again, at youtu.be/XEkDsUrmFC4?t=473 , there's another example of using sextuplets, I've yet to find anything notated anything like mine. – Cubbs Jun 14 '16 at 16:16

Without any more context, the snippet in your OP "feels like" it is really four beats in a bar, with the left hand playing triplets. But almost everything in your notation contradicts that visually. The main purpose of music notation is communication, and this disconnect seems (to me at least) to be a major communication failure.

If you really intend this to be a complicated cross-rhythm, then your notation is fine - though adding a few accents might make it clearer.

But if you actually mean "four beats in the bar", then write it that way.

I don't really see how splitting each bar into four and using longer note values would make it any clearer. 32nd-notes and/or triplets won't "frighten the horses," so long as they communicate what you really mean.

My recommendation is to quadruple your note values, and write it in 6/8. That is, the first 6 32nd notes become one measure. If the music is supposed to be fast (which is the impression I get), then let that be reflected by the tempo mark.

• Seems a formally sound approach, but in practise would mean to have a tempo meter of > 400 bpm, which doesn't seem practical to me... – José David Jun 14 '16 at 18:44
• @joseem then it's already unplayable – MattPutnam Jun 14 '16 at 18:47
• I understand your approach would not change the actual tempo, I just wanted to note that the tempo marking in the normal bpm would not be of much use as no metronome (and even most software pieces, I think) can mark bpm that high. – José David Jun 14 '16 at 19:00
• And I'm saying that if the piece is that fast then there's no point in bothering because this piece is unplayable anyway. – MattPutnam Jun 14 '16 at 20:19
• At 400 bpm using mattputnam's suggestion for notation, you'd be playing 20 notes per second. Any faster, and you ought to get Guinness to watch you because you'll have a world record. – Karen Jun 14 '16 at 23:25