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I have a song in 6/8 that has 4 dotted eighth notes in the treble clef with no rests. On what beat does each note play? I cannot figure this out for some reason.

  • Hi, when asking a question about sheet music notation, we urge you to post a sample image. That helps avoid any misinterpretation. – Carl Witthoft Oct 5 '18 at 12:21
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This is an example of a 2-against-3 cross rhythm. A more intuitive way of notating it, and one that helps you perform it, would be:

enter image description here

You'll note that each value comprises an eighth and a sixteenth; this is why your notation just has four straight dotted eighths.

In order to practice this rhythm, you might start out by removing the ties in my notation. This way, you're playing 1 2&3 4 5&6. Once you're really comfortable with this pattern, add in the ties so that you're only playing 1 ~&~ 4 ~&~.

As you become more fluent with this, you'll notice that you're playing two articulations per large beat. This is why we call this a 2-against-3 cross rhythm: you're playing two pitches per three written eighth notes. Because of this duple feel within a triple rhythm, you'll sometimes see it notated as duplets:

enter image description here

All three notations (including yours) are of the same rhythmic profile.

  • Lovely answer, that's a terrible way to notate the rhythm (yours is much better). +1 – user45266 Oct 5 '18 at 4:25
  • @richard what's that Staff indicator there? – Carl Witthoft Oct 5 '18 at 12:23
  • @CarlWitthoft It's just a percussion clef so that I could focus only on rhythm instead of pitch. – Richard Oct 5 '18 at 12:56
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    @CarlWitthoft I meant the duplet version was good, and I didn't like the 4 dotted-quarters notation. – user45266 Oct 5 '18 at 15:50
  • @user45266 I agree. I have seen the dotted eighth rhythm in some of our church's choir octavos, but I definitely think the duplet rhythm looks better. It makes it clear that a cross rhythm is taking place and isn't so obscure. – Kevin H Oct 6 '18 at 12:32

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