# For counters: how do you count jigs?

### For counters: how do you count jigs?

How do people count jigs?

Like just “1 2”?

Or do you do a “1 e and” straight? Or “1 e and” and swing the counting? Or something different?

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

If I had to count“ ”1 e and" up to 4 in a jig rhythm. And foot tapping on 1 and 3. I think 😀

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

While playing or counting in before the tune starts?

(I don’t count while playing, but if I ’m starting a set and want everyone to have an idea of the tempo, I might say 1-2-3-4 - and that equals two measures.)

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

It depends on the purpose of your counting, I think. The basic pulse of a jig is simply 1 - 2.

If I were explaining jig rhythm to a novice, I would illustrate it by counting ONE-two-three - TWO-two-three etc.

For *counting in* a jig, just counting 1 - 2 is not long enough. You could count it in something like ONE-two - TWO-two, but I think many would habitually count 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, even though a music theory stickler might consider it incorrect.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

I’m with jeff and CMO - don’t count except as a count in.
I subconsciously “feel” jigs in twos and slip jigs in threes (beats per bar).

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Count-ins are often my job, so:
1-2 2-2 for a 6/8 jig, 1-2-3 2-2-3 for a 9/8(slip) jig, 1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4 for a slide (12/8) - but that second bar may have to be shortened to allow for any lead notes (anacruses).
For something slower in “compound time” as these are, I might say one-and two-and, etc where the “and” falls on the 3rd and 6th quaver.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

It’s a good explainer, but one of the issues with calling it: ‘123, 456’ is that beginners will think that the notes are all equally spaced.
When I play (Mandolin) I sometimes count to myself, (1)Dan - Da, Dun - Du; (2) Dan - Da, Dun - Du
but I’m thinking of the rhythm of my favourite recently heard tune because jig rhythms can vary a lot. I use ‘a’ for the upbeats, ie. Dan a Da, Dun u Du or other vowels depending on the accent of the rhythm.
But a lot of my counting is internalised as body flow movements, which can be interrupted, or example I CANNOT play a solid rhythm while standing on sloping ground, however if I’m sitting down with knees below hips (if you get the picture) then I play reasonable rhythm even if my feet can’t move.

All that to say that my rhythm and counting comes a lot from muscle memory of solid rhythms experienced.
Not sure if any of this makes a difference to my playing though! 🙂

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

@trish santer – I am intrigued by your choice of count-in for slip jigs. Why not just count 1 - 2 - 3?

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Because my general rule is a two-bar count-in to solidly establish the timing: as you’ve said yourself, 1-2 is mot long enough for a 6/8 jig: likewise 1-2-3 isn’t always long enough for a 9/8 - and, as I pointed out, many tunes do not start on the first beat of the bar - and if they don’t, you need a whole bar plus the part-bar before your lead notes. Count-ins are for setting the pace as well as the time signature.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

The count is ONE two three FOUR five six. The foot comes down only on 1 and 4. The foot is coming up on 2 3 and 5 6. So there are two beats (or pulses) per measure.

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### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

When I’m playing basses on the box or regulators on the pipes, I sometimes like to tap out:

ONE two Three FOUR five Six

With the primary taps on ONE and FOUR
and secondary taps on Three and Six

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

@trish santer – Sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you meant counting in six quavers, like one bar of 6/8, which made no sense. Two full bars of 9/8 makes perfect sense.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

I’m a drum kit player from America so I learned to count 6/8 or jig time as 1-&-Uh-2-&-Uh. 4/4 or 2/2 or reel time as 1-e-&-uh-2-e-&-uh-3-e-&-uh-4-e-&-uh

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### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

One of my bandmates counts 1 2 3 4 for absolutely anything and everything!

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

“Count-ins are for setting the pace as well as the time signature.”
Indeed, though some people seem to take the count-in as “Ready, steady, go!” 😉

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Dancers do it like this: “5, 6 and off you go”, with the syllables on beat 1, 2 and 6 of bar one and beat 1, 3 and 4 of bar two for jigs. That’s pretty accurate.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

for dancing as above.. 5, 6, 7, 8

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Honestly I don’t count them at all, I’ve internalised the rhythm and timing from playing in sessions. As others have noted jigs have uneven timing of the notes, and a ‘mathematical’ division isn’t right, at least not for ITM. I ‘feel’ two pulses per measure with subdivisions placed subconsciously from ‘osmosis’.

This kind of feel can be developed by listening and clapping, or just playing over recordings or in sessions. It quickly becomes obvious when your timing misaligns with the other players, and is intuitive to ‘fix’ from that point.

Regarding music theory 6/8, 9/8 etc are ‘compound’ time which is a way of notating a bar length of two dotted quarter notes, 3 dotted quarter notes etc. They only have two pulses per measure for 6/8.

All a time signature really says is ‘there are 4 quarter notes in a bar’ or ‘there are 6 8th notes in a bar’.

Although going another level down, I also tend to think of ‘bars’ as a largely useless concept as phrases are really the fundamental ‘grouping’ in music. In a lot of trad dance music a phrase is usually (but not always) 2 bars. In songs, a phrase is usually defined by the phrasing of the lyrics and can be irregular.

I really don’t know why music is so often taught in a really ‘mathematical’ way as it’s not very representative of how its actually played.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

[Want to clarify something in my above post but the edit link has vanished]

Regarding music theory 6/8, 9/8 etc are ‘compound’ time which is a way of notating a bar length of two dotted quarter notes, 3 dotted quarter notes etc. All a time signature really says is ‘there are 4 quarter notes in a bar’ or ‘there are 6 8th notes in a bar’.

Pulse within that can be described by a tempo mark. For 6/8 you’ll often see something like ‘dotted quarter = 120’, implying two pulses per bar.

Michel new on youtube has some good discussions of these things.

I really don’t know why music is so often taught in a really ‘mathematical’ way as it’s not very representative of how its actually played. It may be due to people trying to teach music through writing alone without being able to hear how something is actually played. However in this day and age that’s a really outdated teaching method, if the reasoning is even correct.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Just play along with loads of jigs and you’ll be grand; sorted.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

9/8 is a waltz time, 1 , 2 , 3 . So for compound time you count. 123, 123, 123.
1--- 2 --- 3
123 123 123

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

@Nicholas lucas – For what purpose? 1 - 2 - 3 is perfectly adequate for counting in a slip jig (or, as trish santer suggests, ONE-two-three Two-two-three, for a 2-bar count-in).

The fundamental difference between 9/8 and 3/4 (and between compound and simple time in general), as you are aware, is simply that each beat is divisible by 3 instead of of 2. So why is there any need to count in differently for compound time?

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

“5, 6 and…” - I read that as the syllables on beat 1, _4_ and 6 of bar one (not beat 1, 2 and 6).

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

“Nellie the elephant”

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### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

“Nellie the elephant” Yes, usually, except more “Nellie the Eleph and” much of the time. For counting in I would instantly understand 1-2-3-4 (two bars) as giving me tempo and the first downbeat.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Jon d, Fergal is counting two bars there, with 1 & 2 being the 1st and 4th eighth of the 6/8, 3 & uh being the same in the next bar.

To be fair that’s the way most play, especially at ceilidhs etc

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### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

I’m puzzled by all the people who say they count 123 223 and variations. That might be useful in beginner lessons where you are still learning where to put the accents, but if a jig is to be played at full speed you simply can’t count that fast (or if you can you’d be so busy doing it you wouldn’t be able to play). The normal way to do it is to count the two beats in the bar of 6/8 and just play the sub-divisions. For count-ins “ one two” isn’t enough, but everyone will know what to do with a nomal “one two three four”

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Mark M: “I’m puzzled by all the people who say they count 123 223 and variations. That might be useful in beginner lessons where you are still learning where to put the accents, but if a jig is to be played at full speed you simply can’t count that fast”

I don’t think many people are saying that. For a slip jig, the basic count is 1 – 2 – 3 (as for a waltz, mazurka, minuet, polska etc.). But, if you want a two bar count-in (which is especially useful where there are pick up notes, as it gives you a full bar’s count in before the depleted bar), then it’s ONE-two-three TWO-two-(three), counting the dotted crotchets, not the quavers.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

“I don’t think many people are saying that” But some were, and I thought counting within the bar is what the OP was asking about.

I don’t count when playing and I can’t count the quavers (or think Nellie the elephant/rasher and sausages) in my head at normal playing tempo. For me that is as Mark M suggest mainly for getting familiar the accents/rhythm. I might count the beats when getting my head round tunes with strong off-beat accents. (And I know one polska enthusiast who counts them in 1-3,1-3.)

I struggle with counting in when playing flute. I am keener than many on honouring pickups for the rhythm but so far my best option is 123 12- and come in on the downbeat.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Sorry, still thinking 3 time. I meant 123- and in on the downbeat for jigs. Though I should try 12 1- as less likely to confuse if I am on flute.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

When playing jigs that end in a reel (every measure) then 123, 2234 can be useful.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

“When playing jigs that end in a reel (every measure) then 123, 2234 can be useful.” -- this means 7/8s right? Yeah, a fully-fleshed count-in makes sense. I usually just lead them solo and let people come in when they figure it out, though! XD

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

@Atsunrise – Jigs that end in a reel every measure? That is a very strange concept. If, as benhockenberry deduces, you mean 7/8, with a 3+2+2 grouping, I believe that would be a Pravo Makedonsko Horo, Mazhko Horo or Chetvorno Horo (as distinct from 2+2+3, which would be a Rachenitsa). Of course, using one of those appellations might be pretentious if it is not an authentic Bulgarian tune. But I would certainly not call it any kind of jig or reel.

The usual way to set the pulse for a tune in 3+2+2 is to clap/beat quavers 1, 4 and 6 (and, for 2+2+3 – 1, 3 and 5).

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Thanks CeadurMawnOrganig. Maybe ‘jig-two step’ would be more accurate.. Sŭzhalyavam, che ne govorya Bŭlgarski (says Google 🙂), your mathematics is easier for me to visualise.
I think I got the concept from a Turkish or Brazilian woman(!), can’t remember which or when, but I liked the idea because it’s more pick direction and descriptive.
Another one was jig, reel, jig for 10/8 time. Now that I think of it, I think it was someone who was working with rhythms and poetry.

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

@@sunrise – My own knowledge of Bulgarian music is very rudimentary, and my knowledge of the language even more so (I have a very modest smattering of Russian, but Bulgarian and Russian are about as different as English and German). I was just a bit taken aback by 7/8 coming up in this discussion at all.

‘Jig-two-step’ is a confusing term. The term ‘two-step’ normally refers to an uptempo 6/8 march-type tune – something like Sousa’s ‘Liberty Bell’. Short of using one of the Bulgarian names (which I would not know how to apply properly), it is safest just to refer to such a tune as ‘7/8, 3+2+2’ or similar – or a ‘jeel’, maybe (and 2+2+3 would be a ‘rig’, of course).

### Re: For counters: how do you count jigs?

Jigs are 3:2 superimposed over 2/4. At the same time.