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I'm trying to get a handle on playing in cut time. Do I just play the notes at half their written value; in other words, should I play a quarter note as an eighth, eighth as a sixteenth, etc. And what about the rests; how are they counted. Thanks.

Ed
 

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That's pretty much it. Common time is 4/4. 4 beats per measure and quarter note gets the beat. Cut time is 2/2. 2 beats per measure and the half note gets the beat. So half notes are played like quarters, quarters are played like eighths, eighths are played like sixteenths, etc. Rests are exactly the same. A whole rest in 4/4 gets 4 beats, in cut time it gets 2. Half rests get 1 beat and quarter rests get half a beat.

Might I recommend the book "Technique of the Saxophone Vol. 3: Rhythm Studies" by Joe Viola. I used it to work on sight reading but there's a section of the book where short etudes are written twice. They are played the same way but one is written in 4/4 and the other is in cut time so it makes the mind think differently to achieve the same result. It might be of help to you because you can compare the cut time version to the 4/4 version and you can use the 4/4 version to check that you're playing the cut time version correctly.
 

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Don't get messed up with the math on this... Just tap your foot 2 times per measure rather than 4 times and feel the faster 'pulse'... It's a feel thing, not a different counting thing!
 

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Speed is the same as before. There is no change in BpM there.

4/4 usually got a strong beat on 1 and a less pronounced one on 3. (Warning: some styles do not follow these basic rules!)
2/2 got an equally strong beat on 1.

Hmmm, kinda like foxtrott vs. march.
o_O.o_O. vs. O.O.O.O.
 

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Don't get messed up with the math on this...
And that's the truth. I have to admit I had problems with cut time when I tried to think of it in 'mathematical' terms. It made my head hurt. But if you just feel it, then there's no problem. It works well at faster tempos, because it cuts the time in half (there goes that math again).

I once had a mild argument with my guitar player over a tune we were doing (we play by ear, without sheet music) over whether a certain phrase was 4 bars or 8 bars. I was hearing it in 4 bars and he was hearing it in 8 bars. One of us (I think it was me) was hearing it in cut time and the other was hearing it in 4/4. I didn't matter at all in terms of playing it, but if we wanted to write it out or specify the number of bars, or how fast to tap your foot, it would make a difference.
 

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I didn't matter at all in terms of playing it, but if we wanted to write it out or specify the number of bars, or how fast to tap your foot, it would make a difference.
It can certainly matter when you count a tune in. Imagine how excruciating it can be to play a Samba in 4/4 right through to the end. (been there, done that!)
 

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It can certainly matter when you count a tune in. Imagine how excruciating it can be to play a Samba in 4/4 right through to the end. (been there, done that!)
LOL, yeah VERY good point, Pete. Come to think of it, I believe the issue came up when we tried to count it in. It got resolved somehow, and now I can't even remember how, or even what tune it was!
 

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That's why sometimes with less experienced players I'll count in 1 - 2 - Ready - Go!
 

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My wife is a left-brained player and I am right-brained. When I tell her I count everything in cut time she just looks puzzle. And when she can't count a true cut time piece, I just tell her to count it twice as fast in 4/4. That seems to work great for her. Go figure....
 

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For me cut common time is definitely a pulse thing not a counting thing. In fact for me this applies to several other time signatures too. We play Stephen Foster's 'Beautiful Dreamer' which is scored in 9/8, now OK he could have done that to avoid quaver triplets all over it, but it's aslo about the pulse of the song too I think. You'd have a different mind set to it in 3/4 with quaver triplets. We have a concert hymn called 'Ivory Palaces' composed by Henry Baraclough which is in 6/4. I'm sure it's in that time signature to covey a 6 beat pulse. It just wouldn't be the same in 3/4. Lastly I have a music book called 'Sacred Airs And Carols'. I'm not saying it's old, but the original was probably written on papyrus with a quill pen. In it, the hymn 'Abide With Me' is written in 4/2. The carol' The First Noel' is in 3/2, but good old 'Good King Wencealss' is in, you guessed it, cut common time. All these could easily have been written in more conventional time signatures, but I think they're in the ones mentioned solely to convey the pulse of the music rather than the mechanical business of counting time.
 

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I've always been baffled by the need for cut-time at all. Why not just write it in 4 and set the tempo at twice as many beats per minute? The result is the same.
 

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Re-read responses #7 & 11.
 

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There is also the point that really fast stuff is easier to read with fewer lines in barred groups - a group of 4 eighth notes is easier to read (and write) than 4 sixteenth notes. And syncopated beats using quarter and half notes is easier to read (and write) than using flagged eighth notes and quarter notes.

A lot of show music is in cut time for just these reasons.
 

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Great discussion! Now I don't feel quite so dense! It IS a feel, not necessarily a count/math thing. So, I'm okay, in this instance anyway.

Thank you very much people!!!!
 

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If any of you are those who learn best by contrasting things, you could contrast the above-mentioned application that cut time is a relation of the pulse to the notation, not just a counting thing - way of notating "fast" versus "slow" moving notes - by seeing/hearing how the rhythms are written in exactly the opposite way in many contemporary pop and soul songs.

Listen/look at contemporary songs and feel where the pulse/beat is on a moderate 4/4 and you'll hear/see that the melodic lines are 16th notes over a quarter-note pulse. A perfect example of the notation written twice as "fast" as the basic pulse.
 

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I guess it really is one of those left-brain/right-brain things... to me, one of those open circle things with a stick means 2 beats while a solid one with the same stick means 1 beat. Changing the rules so that the open one is 1 beat and the solid one is ½ beat just gives me an extra complication to try to translate or otherwise keep up with. If the tempo was just twice as many beats per minute, all would be the same and no on-the-fly translation would be needed. :dontknow:
 

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I guess it really is one of those left-brain/right-brain things... to me, one of those open circle things with a stick means 2 beats while a solid one with the same stick means 1 beat. Changing the rules so that the open one is 1 beat and the solid one is ½ beat just gives me an extra complication to try to translate or otherwise keep up with. If the tempo was just twice as many beats per minute, all would be the same and no on-the-fly translation would be needed. :dontknow:
Cheer up- like almost everything else in learning to play, the more you do it the easier and more automatic it becomes. Surely, it can't be any harder than remembering to play the note on the third line differently depending upon whether or not there is a flat in the key signature, or than remembering to use a different fingering for a note, depending upon what note precedes or follows it. In comparison to playing in a different keys, or maybe, as on piano, reading and playing two different clefs simultaneosly, cut time is a piece of cake. Just keep doing it as much as possible. For myself, I find trying to count in a very fast 4 more difficult than a moderate 2.
Regards, Ruth
 

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I guess it really is one of those left-brain/right-brain things... to me, one of those open circle things with a stick means 2 beats while a solid one with the same stick means 1 beat. Changing the rules so that the open one is 1 beat and the solid one is ½ beat
It's not really changing the rules, there are no rules that say a crotchet (1/4 note) is one beat and a minim (1/2 note) is two beats.

The rules actually define the beat by the denominator of the key signature, so 4/4 means four 1/4 note beats to the bar, and 2/2 means two 1/2 not beats to the bar.

While on the subject of rules, if in 4/4 or 3/4, a crotchet is one beat, why do people from the US call it a 1/4 note. And if a whole note lasts a whole bar of 4/4, why do English people call it a semi breve?

So many questions.
 

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Oh, you had to go and throw in English nomenclature! The reason people in the US call a ¼ note a "quarter note" even though there may only be two or three beats to the measure is because the 4/4 time signature is the most common. That's it. We just ignore any "inconvenient truths" so don't try and confuse us with facts!! Besides, the idea of whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, etc... is a reinforcement of the time value relationships between the notes. If you understand the basic relationship, then 2/2 as cut time makes perfect sense! :baby:
 
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