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98% of All Music is Duple or Triple Metre. Say What?!

I'm going to share something with you today that is going to BLOW YOUR MIND if you haven't learned it already! Did you know that all music (well, 98% of it) is either duple (2 based) or triple (3 based) metre. Say what? You might be thinking right now.. 'obviously waltzes and minuets are triple metre, marches, hornpipes and polkas are duple metre.. but what about 5s and 7s? They're different! Oh and 9/8s.. they're different! Girl, you don't know anything..' am I reading your mind? It's all good! I used to think similarly, but I've since learned a thing or two and I want to share it with you today! 

First, let's address the duple metre family.. There are a few obvious ones here, like the marches, polkas, hornpipes, 2/4 galops, 4/4s, tangos, habaneras, most czardas and your standard 2/4 allegro. What else belongs in this seemingly obvious category? Here are some surprises.. allegro 6/8s. That's right.. you'd think that a 6/8 would be triple metre; the adagio 6/8 is, but the allegro 6/8 is technically a 2/4 on compound-time steroids! Stick 3 eighth notes on each quarter note and you've got a 6/8. 123 456.  It's duple metre. Another surprise duple is the 12/8.. This is the same idea.. it's 4/4 on compound-time steroids!  Put 3 eighth notes on each beat so it feels like this super "notey" crazy big adage.. and really, it's a 4. If you can count a 4/4 adage, you can count a 12/8, you just need to hear the underlying triple sound under the beat. I was chatting with a teacher recently that was struggling with understanding a movie theme piece of music. It is a fabulous piece of music, very dramatic but it was also very hard to count for everyone, teacher and students. Turns out, it's a 12/8.. Now, that teacher is good to go and totally knows how to count her choreography! Another surprising duple metre piece of music is the 5/4! That's right. a 5 is a 2. 

 

Now let's talk about triple metre! When it comes to triple metre, there is a lot of music that is not a surprise.. like all the waltzes, the sarabande, the minuet, the polonaise, the mazurka, the bolero, etc.. but did you know that the 7/4 or the 7/8 actually belongs to the triple metre family? It's rhythm, most commonly, is divided into 2 + 2 + 3. Do you see the 3 sections of rhythm within the measure? 12, 12, 123 | 12, 12, 123| etc. Another surprise, to some of you, is the 9/8. This is another simple metre'd time signature, on compound-time steroids.

Can you guess what it is? If you guessed the standard 3/4, you're right! 

You name it, 98% of music we know of fits into one of these two categories! When you consider that, then suddenly all the music styles in the world are a little less intimidating.. They are all either divided into 3, or into 2! 

Parting question to consider: which metre, duple or triple, is the original Mission Impossible theme song? Do you know? 

 

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