I am a guitarist and often for various genres the dotted eighth delay effect is needed. I don't have subdivison functions on a delay pedal of mine, therefore I can only tap in crochets that are relative to the song's tempo. If I wanted to tap in a dotted eighth relative to the song's tempo, how would I do that? Or more broadly, how does one count in dotted eighth timing?

Note: This question is much broader than guitar pedals, they were used merely as an example.


How you subdivide rhythms depends on the time signature (and sometimes tempo) in which you find them.

For common time (4/4), dotted-8th's are typically subdivided at the 16th-note:

1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a

I've bolded where the dotted-8th would be articulated in 4/4 time.

In compound time, like 9/16, the dotted-8th would typically be the pulse despite the 16th receiving the unit beat:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

I've bolded where the dotted-8th would be articulated in 9/16 time.

In other compound times, like 6/8, the dotted-8th would evenly subdivide the pulse (dotted quarter in most cases), thus giving a feeling of simple time:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + (16th notes)

Again, I've bolded where the dotted-8th would be articulated.

  • 1
    I did think he was asking about a time signature that would really support the dottet eight pattern. Say 6/8. I didn't think about others when writing my answer so I removed it. thanks to jjmusicnotes for pointing it out and providing a better answer.
    – Carpid
    Nov 2 '17 at 15:44

The "." always adds half of the dotted note's value.

So (using 1 beat to represent a quarter-note in 4/4 time)

  • a dotted half-note is 3 beats instead of 2 (2+1)
  • a dotted quarter is 1.5 beats (1 + 1/2)
  • a dotted eighth is 3/4 of a beat (1/2 + 1/4).

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The general term for fancy ways to count is "rhythmic solfege." Searching on that will get you tons to read on the topic. The Takadimi system is particularly well thought out, but not commonly used.

However the practical answer is to take however you are counting eighths, break it in half and add more syllables. E.g. if counting

One And Two And Three And Four And

go to

One e And a Two e And a...

If counting in 6/8 and doing

One Two Three Four Five Six

go to

One e Two e Three e Four e...

However, the tricky part for the application in question, tapping in on the delay pedal, is you'll need to tap on every third subdivision and they have different names. Not a problem at all if you're used to this sort of thing but otherwise it will take a bit of practice. Note that in 4/4, it will take three measures before the dotted eighth starts on the One again.

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