Jeremy "JD" Sheehan
"6/8 TIME SIGNATURE"
-----Remember, the value of each note in relation to other notes is always the same. The time signature tells you how to interpret the note. In the time signature of 6/8, the number 6 tells you there are 6 beats in a measure. The number 8 tells you which note receives 1 beat, in this case the eighth note. Again, the easiest way to remember the bottom number is the number on the bottom is equal to the note that fits into a whole note that amount of times. The eighth note fits into the whole note 8 times.
-----So in 6/8 time signatures the eighth note receives 1 beat, the quarter note receives 2 beats, the sixteenth note receives 1/2 of a beat, and the thirty-second note receives 1/4 of a beat. Though you do not see them very often in 6/8 time signatures, the half note would receive 4 beats. Because there are only 6 beats in a measure of 6/8 time, and there are 8 eighth notes in a whole note, you CANNOT play a whole note in the time signature of 6/8. It is too big for the measure of 6 beats.
-----So in the time signature of 6/8, since eighth notes are equal in value to one beat, you would count eighth notes 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6, with each count receiving 1 beat. The quarter note would also be counted 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6, with each count receiving 1 beat, but since quarter notes are equal in value to 2 beats each, you would only stroke on the counts of 1, 3, and 5. The sixteenth note, now equal in value to 1/2 of a beat, would be counted 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and-5-and-6-and, with each count receiving 1/2 of a beat. And thirty-second notes, now equal in value to 1/4 of a beat, would be counted 1-e-n-a-2-e-n-a-3-e-n-a-4-e-n-a-5-e-n-a-6-e-n-a, whith each count receiving 1/4 of a beat.
-----So since you are counting beats with the counts of 1-2 or 1-2-3-4 in the time signatures of 2/4 and 4/4, and 1-2-3-4-5-6 in the time signature of 6/8, but counting different notes (quarter notes in 2/4 and 4/4, and eigth notes in 6/8), it is helpful to think of the counts as separate from the notes. Meaning, think of counting full beats with numbers, such as 1-2, or 1-2-3-4, or 1-2-3-4-5-6 depending upon the time signature you are in, and half beats with the "and" count (1-n-2-n-3-n-4-n), and quarter beats with the "e-n-a" count (1-e-n-a-2-e-n-e-3-e-n-a-4-e-n-a). Those counts will never change, you will always count full beats and half beats and quarter beats with those counts. The counts are constant, what changes is the note you are counting, depending upon the time signature you are playing in. If you think like this, it is possible to refer to counts without referring to a specific note value.
-----The time signature of 6/8 is used for certain types of military marching music, but also other types of music. The most common type of music it is used for would be Blues music. The blues are based upon 6 beats per measure, or 12 depending on the type of blues music and how it is written on paper. But if it it 12 beats per measure, you can still think of it as 2 measures of 6/8.
-----Here is an example of a basic blues drumbeat written in the time signature of 6/8. The cymbal would be counted 1-2-3-4-5-6, and the bass plays on the count of "1" and the snare plays on the count of "4".
Hear the above rhythm ( 22 measures of beat )