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How to Count 32nd notes


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Does anyone have a method for counting 32nd notes. When counting 16th notes, you count them 1 e & a 2 e & a, but I can't seem to find the equvialent for 32nd notes. I asked a few friends I have who mainly play piano or organ (as soloists) and they said they simply play the 32nd notes as fast as they can. Somehow I don't think this works so well when playing in a group, so any help on counting them would be welcome.

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Hit the 1st one and the last one with everyone else. It'll sound OK, because they're probably doing the same thing.

Just kidding.

Use a metronome, and play the passage very slowly until you get the feeling of it. Even if there was a 1 uh oh e i e i o pattern, it goes by too fast to count it.

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These "one-EEY-AND-UUH"s drive me nuts. I just could 1-2-3-4.

There are four 32nd notes to each eighth note. Usually when 32nd notes appear the music is relatively slow so you can cound a beat to each eight note. Remember you are free to "count" anyway that works for you - people cannot tell what is going on inside your heat (well, maybe some of us can - but most cannot). Starting your counting this way will help you bootstrap t counting eight 32nds to a quarternote - when that is neededl or you can always work out a way to subdivide the beat in your head for just that measure.

If you are one of the many people who find counting time in a regular way difficult, try working at first with a metronome. Personally, I find them distracting - although invaluable for precisely determining tempos (although for that I am happy enough working approximately off the second hand of my watch or "one-one-thousand"s.


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My teacher is of the 1 e and a 2 e school. I had more trouble keeping that straight than the actual rhythm! So as you suggest here, I tried my own way which is subdividing as far as I need and use my metronome. Once I get the feel for the rhythms, I don't "count," I just play and work on increasing the tempo. Works pretty well for me. It does take a lot of patience to do it this way, but once you've got it, it's not going any where. My teacher commented once that I've developed a great "internal metronome." If she only knew!

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I don't find the 1&2& types of counting systems to be all that helpful for faster rhythms. At some point, the student needs to "feel" the rhythm. I find that learning to "tongue" like a flutist is helpful, with the Kodaly type rhythms quarter = ta, 8th = ti, 16th = tiki, 32nd = double time tiki. So one 4/4 measure with one beat of each kind of note would look like this:

ta-------------- (quarter, crotchet)

ti------ti------ (8th)

ti--ki--ti--ki-- (16th)

tikitikitikitiki (32nd)

This system is much simpler to feel and you can say the rhythm to almost any piece almost as fast as you can play it, with practice. I can "count" 16th notes up to about quarter=168 this way. I guess 25 years of flute playing were good for something. We also had to count rhythms this way in theory class at the University of Iowa back in the old days.

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Sorry, just reading that makes me think of tikitikitiki torches torches torches!! (a friend of mine just put some up in his back yard, that's why!)

And I must say I like the "1 uh oh e i e i o", I may use that!

Seriously, I find that while "1-e-and-a" (or "1-day-and-a") works for 16ths, saying in my head something like "bada bada bada bada" works for 32nds.

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  • 17 years later...
On 7/23/2020 at 10:57 PM, Purple said:

I always like to think digadigadigadiga for thirty second notes or digada for sixthlets

One way to get this down to memory and reflex, program the passage you're practicing into ABC Explorer, and play along, starting at a slower tempo, and increasing it until you're playing in tune and in unison at the composer's marked tempo.  This way, you have a "perfect" example to learn from. :)

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