6/8 .......4 / 4


Senior Member
but who says that counting triplets in 4/4 turns it into 12/8 ?.....i think it remains 4/4

The fact is that it can be either. 4/4 vs 12/8 - to the greatest degree is simply a notational difference. Musically they are entirely synonymous.

4 vs 12.jpg

So why use one over the other. Lots of reasons - but most of the time, the choice is practical. Which way is easier to read... or to count. This is why so often 12/8 is used when talking about slow triplet ballads in 4/4. When the tempo is really slow - we are going to likely let the 1/8th notes or triplets be our home base rhythmically. We'll likely tap our feet along with them - as opposed to on the 1/4 note at like 40 bpm. So if we're counting 1/8th's, then it's often easier to really count them.... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Instead of 1 ti ta 2 ti ta 3 ti ta 4 ti ta.But make no mistake - Either Will Work. The choice is just about trying to make it easier.

Same goes with rhythms - sometimes a triplet feeling piece might contain lots non-western traditional rhythms... middle triple syncopations, off best 1/4 note triplets - rhythms you might find in a lot afro-cuban jazz music. Those can sometimes be a lot cleaner to notate - and easier to read when notated in 12/8.

So why not use 12/8 for everything? Because there's a huge tradition and an equally huge skillset of folks that can more easily read triplets in 4/4 - when the music fits those traditional rhythms.

So both are totally valid. It is a choice that the writer must make when notating.

But from a player's perspective - I believe we are best served by realizing that they are synonymous. As far as what the music is going to sound like - how we are going to play it - the difference is ZERO. 12/8 and 4/4 are just two ways of writing the very same thing.

Huw Owens

Active Member
FWIW I would say that the Aerosmith track is in 6/8 rather than 12/8 because there's a distinct "two feel" (to my ear at least). The chord changes, and where the band accents, seem to go that way.

As to why compound time rather than simple time, the answer would usually be because it follows that rhythm all the way through. If there was a straight 8ths 4/4 rhythm for most of the tune, then it went to a triplet feel for a bar or two - i.e. a change from the main rhythm - then I would just write those bars as triplets. Where the whole tune has a compound feel, that's when I'd write it as such.



Platinum Member
I'd call it a 12/8 feel.

But I'd count it at 4/4 just because I personally find counting it that way is easier.