I've found "1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a" notation is often used to describe ballroom step timing, but I've not found any authoritative source for it. It even looks like a recent invention for the Internet era. So my question is, is it really widely used and unambiguously understood? Are there thorough instructions for using it?

  • is it really widely used and unambiguously understood Are you asking specifically for ballroom environments or for any other music context as well? – Arsak Jul 3 at 9:36
  • I'm curious to hear about contexts other than ballroom as well. I wouldn't expect it's used for writing music, as I think western musical notation using a staff and note signs is out of competition. – Konstantin Pelepelin Jul 9 at 20:12

At least in the US, this notation is very commonly used for counting rhythm. In fact, in my experience it's the most common method, but that's just based off of first-hand, anecdotal evidence.

But although this notation for sixteenth notes is pretty standard, notation for other subdivisions varies much more. For triplets I've seen "one trip-let," "two la-li," "three ki-da," and so on. Although your sixteenth-note notation doesn't need any clarification, you may find yourself having to clarify your notation for note values of a triplet and smaller.

Other famous systems include the Kodaly method, the Edwin Gordon method, and the (perhaps infamous) Takadimi system. A number of these systems are summarized on Wikipedia's Counting (music) page.

  • In the UK too.. – Tim Jun 26 at 9:38
  • thanks for the wiki link, where it's called "Traditional American system" – Konstantin Pelepelin Jul 2 at 19:22

It's not recent, I'm in my 50's and when I started taking piano lessons (I still play!) that's how 16th notes were counted!

  • when did you started? was it used for written or only spoken counting? – Konstantin Pelepelin Jul 9 at 19:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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