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Red House Time Sig.

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by mozzarate54, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. mozzarate54

    mozzarate54 Tele-Holic

    Aug 8, 2012
    I'm really confused by the time signature on this song. Ok so i believe it's a standard 12 bar blues in 12/8 time. But I have no idea of to count a 12/8 progression. Can someone please explain this to me?

    I think this is how the progression goes

    Attached Files:

  2. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Quick review of time signatures:
    Bottom number = what type of note gets one beat/count.
    Top number = how many beats/counts per measure.
    12/8 = twelve 1/8 notes in each measure.

    It's just basically a slow 4/4 - at least it is with Red House and for slow blues in general.
    Each beat of the slow 4/4 is being turned into a set of three 1/8 note triplets: 1 trip let 2 trip let 3 trip let 4 trip let or 123 456 789 10 11 12. But nobody actually counts to 12 (at least when it's a blues or any other type of shuffle). A 12/8 time sig helps to designate the 'feel'. A lot of times they will just put a 4/4 time sig and write 'triplet feel'.

    *Other styles of music may/will require counting to 12.

  3. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    Hmm, Red House usually gets played as 4/4 with a triplet feel (what he said ;)

    With 12 eighth-notes to the bar that's 4 eighth-note triplets
    123 123 123 123 | 123 123 123 123 |

    Written in 4/4 the triplets would each be played in the space of a quarter-note

    The intro certainly has the triplet feel.
    But does anyone actually play Red House with a fixed time sig?

  4. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Right from the first opening guitar lick, this is the song that first taught me what (eighth-note) triplets sound like:

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012

  5. mozzarate54

    mozzarate54 Tele-Holic

    Aug 8, 2012

  6. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    Are you thinking of performances where notes are sometimes held, suspended in time? Also, maybe performances where the beat slows down and speed up?

    I'd say that the meter generally stays the same, even though a certain beat may be held longer. Classical music soloists and chamber musicians are known for taking great liberty sometimes with time. For them, a time signature provides a map for beats to sound against.

    As for the number of beats in a measure, the prevailing school of thought in classical music teaching, theory, and performance is that compound meters, including 6/8 9/8 and 12/8, have pulses or sub-divisions , the number of pulses of which are 3, 6, 9, 12. The number of beats in a bar is the number of pulses divided by 3. The main thing to remember in such a situation, is that the number of beats is determined by dividing the number of pulses by 3.

  7. gtroates

    gtroates Tele-Meister

    Try it by counting each pulse with a number followed by the numbers two and three, so 12/8 in this fashion is counted 123, 223, 323, 423. A lot of old R and B slow tunes are played in 12/8; for example, "I've Been Loving You Too Long" by Otis Redding, or "Try Me" by James Brown.

  8. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    More or less.
    I don't mean the tempo, speeding up and down.
    I mean the beat. Some of these blues songs have an uneven beat that is tricky to write down in western score in the first place.
    I remember being taught to transcribe beat by scribbling down h's, n's and m's whilst listening, the stem of the h being an emphasised beat.

    Sometimes the beat is held for longer or shorter than written i.e. as triplets. But there is a tiny hesitation pause after each triplets in Red House, a natural artefact of doing a banjo roll "ding ding dong, ding ding dong".

    The run-down at the [2.] is a "Robert Johnson" thing and his music is often transcribed as 4/4 with a bar of 2/4 thrown in to make the measure up.

    I think Red House is usually interpreted freely in terms of meter, it is a blues number after all. To my ear the main part of the song and solo is more a 4/4 although it returns to the triplets for embellishment. I think it might be better written as 4/4 with braced triplets than as 12/8, but what do you do with a beat that is going | 1 & 2 3 & 4 |

    Baroque/renaissance music can do this too, some of the early lute scores simply drop extra notes into the bar, you're lucky if you get a time sig with the early ones, you have to count the dots per bar: they don't always add up.

  9. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle Tele-Meister

    Jan 23, 2010
    I don't quite follow what you mean, I just listened to Red House and the time is locked up.

  10. Toriginal

    Toriginal Former Member

    May 30, 2012
    That is so cool. I wonder about this every single day.
    Are they playing 3/4 time? I would ask myself How do you play 12 bar blues in 3/4 time? asking myself.
    Even yesterday while earbud listening piling wood, I was thinking ok, that sounds like maybe 24 3/4 time bars with the changes at 8 and 16 and 24 and what the?.... Half speed, double speed I dunno and now I know. Total revelation time for me thanks to you. Wow that's a slow 4/4 time though. noted.
    Thanks for clearing that up guys. Not just specifically for Red House. Finally I can move on. Very Very cool!!!

  11. D_Schief

    D_Schief Tele-Holic

    Apr 23, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    It's easier to hear and feel, than to talk about. Isn't it!

  12. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire

    Don't get trapped into thinking that 12/8 is a slow 4/4. They are really quite different. Think of each group of three eighth notes as a "pulse" but it isn't a "beat" rhythmically. Remember "House of the Rising Sun" the way The Animals did it? Listen carefully - it sounds like a slow 2, but it's 6/8. The arpeggios are played in time - that is 6 beats to a measure, even though the snare hits come on 4, it feels like it's coming on the second pulse of every measure. Same thing in a way with Red House, only it feels like 4, that's why it's 12/8 rather than 6/8. Technically, you could play the same rhythm for both songs and make it work, but there is a definite difference.

  13. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    It certainly was for me. I had read the technical explanation in music books, which seems simple enough. I could count them out, and pick my guitar in time.

    But I didn't really understand how triplets sounded or how they were used in rock-n-roll (that all-important "feel") until I heard Chuck Berry using them. Then it all made sense!


  14. ronkmd

    ronkmd TDPRI Member

    Aug 27, 2008
    NV, USA
    I might be wrong but I guess most slow blues seem to be transcribed in 4/4 (with triplet feel), so you're looking at quarter notes and eighth notes instead of a bunch of dotted eighths and triplets. Just looks less "crowded". So, basically, I think there are two sides to the answer: how it's played and how it's written.

  15. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Aug 17, 2012
    The band I was in used to cover Red House, and I always just mentally counted it in 6/8 with the emphasis on the one and the four: ONE two three FOUR five six ONE two three FOUR five six. Right or wrong, it worked just fine!

  16. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    I think of Bluesette as a jazz blues in 3/4 or, if you want it to be in 12 bar form, 6/8.


  17. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    Depends on which version, it was a staple of Hendrix's live shows and covered by everyone and their dog. I only saw Hendrix once a short while before he died, not the IoW, indoors in a hall somewhere (Town Hall Circuit?) but to be honest, I cannot remember where nor what he played now.

    Appears to be based on Albert King's "Travelling to California", also has Robert Johnson elements.
    wiki is wrong in that Redding does start the song with Hendrix doing a one-bar series of triplets for intro ... but Redding is playing the bass part on the studio's jazzbox guitar on Experienced.

    I count the beat mostly as |: 1 & 2 3 & 4 | 1 & 2 3 & 4 & :| but it does move about, it swings. The tempo however is pretty much fixed.

  18. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire

    1 & 2 3 & 4 - ? How can you count like that? 1 through 2 and 3 through 4 are each three beats that way, with 2 - 3 being two beats. "1 2 3 4 5 6" or "1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a" will work, but how could one even notate that count?
    This song is not hard. It's 12/8 or 6/8 depending on how you look at it, and each set of three eighth notes feels like one pulse.

  19. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA

  20. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Aug 17, 2012
    Maybe ONE and two THREE and four, which works but is a weird way of counting it!

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