I have a piece to read that gives the tempo of dotted quarter = 144. Does that mean it's at a quarter note = 96? The piece has a time signature of 12/8, and I'm guessing each eighth note is played at a rate of 96 bpm. Is this right?

  • Could you tell me the song you are having trouble with? Nov 8, 2018 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


If the dotted quarter is played at 144bpm, that means that 144 of them will fit in a span of one minute. Since there are three eighth notes in a dotted quarter, then there are 144 * 3 = 432 eighth notes that will fit in this same span. And since two eighth notes fit into a quarter note, there are 432 / 2 = 216 quarter notes that fit into this span.

As such, the quarter note tempo would be 216bpm.

A simpler way of finding this tempo would be acknowledging that, since there are three eighth notes in a quarter note, a quarter is 2/3 of a dotted quarter. So we divide 144 by 2/3, which is the same as multiplying by 3/2.

With that said, if the piece is in 12/8, only in rare very circumstances would you use a quarter-note pulse to help you understand the piece. Since the main "beats" of 12/8 are marked in dotted-quarter notes, I strongly recommend sticking with the dotted quarter = 144 recommendation.

  • 3
    to add to the last sentence. keep the metronome at 144 and count to 4 and give it a triplet feel. 1xx2xx3xx4xx or you could count to 12 but the metronome would fall on the bold beats: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12, if that was not clear
    – b3ko
    Nov 8, 2018 at 17:51
  • @b3ko Good call. See also music.stackexchange.com/questions/74838/…
    – Richard
    Nov 8, 2018 at 17:53
  • And perhaps also music.stackexchange.com/questions/52369/…
    – Richard
    Nov 8, 2018 at 18:11
  • @Richard does that mean that if the signature is 12/8, the eighth note gets the beat, and each beat is played at 216 bpm? Nov 9, 2018 at 18:06
  • @JerfyDerpy In 12/8, the dotted-quarter note gets the beat, and each beat is played at 144.
    – Richard
    Nov 9, 2018 at 18:07

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