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Reading Music in Compound Time – 6/8, 12/8

By September 9, 2020January 20th, 2022sax lessons, saxophone articles

Tutorial for reading music in compound time such as 6/8 and 12/8

Includes the songs “O Holy Night” and Bring It On Home To Me”

The above video was created as a tutorial for reading music written in compound time, specifically for the song “O Holy Night” which was arranged in 6/8 time.

Recently I arranged “Bring It On Home To Me” which is in 12/8. Reading in 12/8 and 6/8 is the same theory so this tutorial video applies to reading in 12/8 time as well.

Actually, I could have arranged Bring It On Home in 6/8 time as well but there would have been twice as many bars because theoretically it’s the same, just half the size. Much like reading in 2/4 and 4/4. It reads the same just has half as many counts/notes in the bars.


  • RockinRobin says:

    I first encountered 6/8 and 12/8 time in some Irish music like “Washer Woman”. one music teacher told me, when I was beginning to learn to read music, to break the music down to 8th notes. 16th notes became one ee an aaa. I usually think triplets when playing 6/8 and 12/8 times.

  • john says:

    right, the group of 3 eight notes are triplets. we break down the groups to figure out how to play harder bits but like I said in the video, once we do that we should be counting in 4/4

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