I'm currently studying Music Theory using the RSA grades (formerly known as RockSchool). I'm trying to get through on my own at the moment but I'm half-way through G6 and I'm increasingly feeling the need to get a tutor!

I'm looking at a G6 question that ask for a 4/4 pattern to be converted to 3/4 - I've previously answered questions on converting 4/4 to 2/4 and also 4/4 to compound time signatures and these have not been a problem - for some reason I can't figure these ones out!

Can anyone recommend any online resources or offer any advice as to how I should approach this?

Edit: this is an example of what I'm trying to get my head around. Obviously, I'm not looking for the answers to the questions, I'm looking for any advice as to how to tackle them. RSL G6 Music theory

  • It's tough to answer without the specific example, but I would bet you're probably not expected to convert it so that it's precisely the same rhythm. I would assume--and maybe I'm wrong!--that what's more important is the general long/short relationships and rhythmic feel of the example.
    – Richard
    Jul 11, 2016 at 11:30
  • Well, do you want to turn a march into a walz? Jul 11, 2016 at 11:33
  • Resource recommendations are off topic. Instead just pick any example in 4/4 and ask about it. Also is it transcription or arranging as those are two very different approaches.
    – Dom
    Jul 11, 2016 at 12:12
  • Ah ok, in that case I'll take a picture of one of the questions and post it up later. Jul 11, 2016 at 12:15
  • Question updated. Jul 12, 2016 at 11:07

3 Answers 3


Have a listen, and a look at Fly Me to the Moon. Written in 3/4, but far more commonly played and sung in 4/4. See how the notes are lengthened in each bar to accomodate the extra beat. Notice that the same word/note stays on beat 1, whichever time sig. is used.The same works in reverse from 4/4 into 3/4, with appropriate shortening of other notes in each bar. Probably easier to understand when there are words.

EDIT : due to the slight change in flavour of the actual question, you will end up with exactly the same note values, but spread differently through the new bars.This will involve ties, as some of the notes won't fit exactly into the new time sig. But each and every note will be there, just with different emphasis. It's a theory exercise, probably wouldn't happen in real life!

  • Also check out Kashmir by Led Zeppelin..It also uses a 3/4 4/4 combo where the drums and the guitar sync up every 12 beats or something...its pretty genius Aug 14, 2016 at 9:54

If we're trying to retain the original rhythms of the melodies, I have two suggestions.

First, you can 'force' the melody into 3/4 by converting each note to the note half its duration plus a dot -- a whole note becomes a dotted half note. This is basically squeezing the 4/4 measure into the walls of the new 3/4 measure. Try playing this a bit to get the feel of the result.

This is the polyrhythmic approach of 4 over 3 and can be heard in Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, which is normally too fast to catch but is played slowly here. (The piece is technically not in 3/4, but if you consider the triplets in the left hand to be a 3/4 setting you have exactly the same idea.)

That can work, but it's a bit harsh rhythmically and maybe you want to achieve that rolling 'three' feel. For that you can swing a 4/4 into two measures of 3/4, essentially making 6/8, though you can still emphasize the three quarter notes.

If we played Frère Jacques in this manner, we'd have a 3/4 measure with the first four notes played as quarter note, 8th note, quarter note, 8th note. That's like |Ь БЬ Б|Ь БЬ Б| etc. but with 3/4 emphasized (not 6/8). It's a bit unusual but it works, by which I mean that it works musically.

To try to give you an aural example, consider this video of Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella and try tapping 3/4 to it, emphasizing "one-and-two-and-three-and" to overcome any temptation to hear it as 6/8. Note: This example is just off the top of my head. If I think of a better example I'll post it (and others are welcome to suggest one).

  • I think the first part of your answer is heading in the right direction as far as the specific questions go - I've updated the question with a picture of the grade workbook. Jul 12, 2016 at 11:09

Based on your update, the example you write will have the same number of beats as the original. The three measures of 4/4 (12 beats) of the first example will be converted to four bars of 3/4 (also 12 beats). Thus you're not changing any of the rhythms, you'll just be adjusting a few ties and breaking some note values into two.

One way of approaching this is to mark each beat of the original, and then after every x number of beats (the new meter) provide a heavier mark for the new barline. Then simply translate that rhythm into the new time signature.

In the first example you would mark beats 2, 3, and 4 of the first measure. (You could also mark beat 1 of that measure, but that's a little redundant.) Since you want to convert it to 3/4, beat 4 is your new beat 1. But a quarter note goes right through the new beat 1! So you'll need an eighth note on the "and" of beat three that ties into an eighth note on the downbeat of the second 3/4 measure.

I hope that's clear. Here's a notated example for the first one!

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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