My love affair with 6/8 time.

If you’ve been following along my 365 day journey (and beyond), you’ll already know that music is my life and my soul. I live it, breathe it, sleep with it in my head, and hear it in everything, everywhere. Most music is in what we call “4/4” time. In short, it means that the song counts in measures of 4. You know when you hear a drummer yell “1-2-3-4!” to start off a song with their band? That’s them counting in 4/4. It’s the most common meter or time signature in music and you hear it in practically every song you’ve ever enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy).

My favourite time signature, however, is 6/8 time. Yes, that’s counting to 6 for every measure. It may sound odd, but you’ve definitely heard it before. It’s the signature in Boyz II Men’s “End Of The road”, Queen’s “We Are The Champions”, and Leonard Cohen’s (and others’) “Hallelujah”. Try counting it out, continously — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 — and you can feel that pulse that I absolutely love about 6/8 time. It has this strange feel to it that constantly rides the line between 4/4 and waltz (3/4) and it always feels like it could transform into either of those at any moment. It’s also a staple for really laid-back blues, and I love really laid-back blues. It’s a genre that I could listen to all day that both drives me and relaxes me.

Anytime I hear a good 6/8 song, it makes put on my “damn, that’s nasty” face. It’s something like a duck-face with squinty eyes and always comes with a head bob, feeling that pulse. ONE-two-three-FOUR-five-six. Even just counting that out loud right now (which I just did as I typed it) made me hear those laid-back drums in my head. When that time drops in, it gets my whole body moving — but mainly that face and that head bob — and I zone-out of reality and into the music. I’m wholly focused on the performer, whether it’s live or recorded, and I commit to my imagination and go all-in. It doesn’t cause any visions or hallucinations, but I’ll often enjoy it with my eyes closed and my ears wide open. I’m sure if I thought about it, I could try to come up with some sort of visual representation of what I feel when I’m listening to or playing in 6/8 time, but it’s really one of those indescribable experiences that I’m sure everyone has when they really, truly, fully enjoy something.

I can’t exactly explain why, or how it came to be that this became my favourite time signature — it most likely came from the first few blues songs I heard in that time signature, but I’ve been playing music for so long it could’ve started the first time I ever learned what 6/8 time was — but I know how it makes me feel, and I love it.

It’s different. Sometimes, it’s weird. And I like being both of those.

 – Mickey

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6 thoughts on “My love affair with 6/8 time.

  1. kooblover says:

    I think you’re blog’s cool! It’s awesome that you’re doing a 365 day blog!

  2. jefftds says:

    Thanks for sharing! It’s so revitalizing to hear about someone’s passion. 😀 You’re doing awesome!! Keep at ittt!

  3. Saf says:

    I mean I get it… but I don’t. Curse you, 6/8 time.

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