Counting out Various Meters (Time Signatures)

by Niles Hokkanen

You can put different meters into your head by counting them out in the manner below. (Or you can sing tunes using the count.) The number naturally produce an accent which distinctly separates each grouping.

Slip jig: 3 groups of 3
Polska: 3 groups of 4
Waltz: 3 groups of 2
Jig: 2 groups of 3

9/8 (slip jig): 
1-and-ah  2-and-ah  3-and-ah 

6/8 (double jig): 
1-and-ah  2-and-ah

12/8 (single jig/slide): 
1-(and)-ah 2-(and)-ah 3-(and)-ah 4-(and)-ah

3/4 (waltz): 
1-and 2-and 3-and

1-and 2-and 3-and 4   5

2/4 (16th notes): 
1-eh-and-ah  2-eh-and-ah

4/4 (8th notes): 
1-and 2-and 3-and 4-and

4/4 (16th notes...funk, or disco, etc.): 
1-eh-and-ah  2-eh-and-ah 3-eh-and-ah  4-eh-and-ah

3/4 (16th notes, polska): 
1-eh-and-ah  2-eh-and-ah 3-eh-and-ah  

7/8 (2+2+3, rachenitsa): 
1-and 2-and 3-and-ah

7/8 (3+2+2): 
1-and-ah 2-and 3-and 

11/8 or 11/16 (2+2+3+2+2, kohpanitsa): 
1-and 2-and 3-and-ah 4-and 5-and

9/4 (zembekikko): 
1 2-and 3 4, 1 2-and 3 4 5

additive 4/4 (1 bar clave 3+3+2): 
1-and-ah 2-and-ah 3-and


Niles Hokkanen is a talented mandolinist and journalist and publisher of the now defunct Mandocrucian Digest. He also has a wide variety of related publications of interest to mandolin players willing to expand their talents.

Niles Hokkanen can also be contacted at:

Mandocrucian's Digest
PO Box 3585
Winchester, VA 22604

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