My copy of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah has the following tempo indication:

Moderately slow, in 2

What does the "in 2" mean? I couldn't find it in Wikipedia's glossary of musical terminology.

The piece is notated in 6/8.


1 Answer 1


6/8 is actually 'two time'. Whilst some 6/8 tunes can be counted 123, 456, others will count as 1-- 2--, in the same time. So it's either a quicker count of 6, or a count at a third of the speed of 2. To explain - '1' will be the same in both counts, and '4' in the first is where '2' in the second comes. So this song is a slow two.

  • "So it's either a quicker count of 6, or a count at a third of the speed of 2" -- could you explain that in detail, please? Intuitively I would stress 1 and 4 (assuming I'm counting 123456). Jan 21, 2017 at 13:24
  • In two means two beats per bar, so you are effectively counting dotted quarter notes, Tims minus signs are silent.
    – guidot
    Jan 21, 2017 at 16:45
  • @guidot Thanks for the clarification. Am I correct that within each triplet (123 and 456) only the first note is stressed? Jan 21, 2017 at 18:24
  • 1
    The "official" (copyrighted) version of the sheet music is in 12/8 not 6/8, and doesn't include any tempo instruction except a metronome mark. See "version #2" at sheetmusic-free.com/hallelujah-piano-sheet-music-leonard-cohen. So the "in 2" was presumably added by the re-arranger for reasons best known to him/herself.
    – user19146
    Jan 22, 2017 at 3:06
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    @FlorianBrucker - there are no triplets per se in 6/8 time. It's a triplet feel, but the notes are not written as triplets .
    – Tim
    Jan 22, 2017 at 8:17

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