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Lesson 15: Sixteenth Notes in Compound Meter

Practice PatternsLesson 15 Practice Patterns


In this lesson we will delve deeper into compound meter by including sixteenth notes and rests. In Lesson 14 we learned to subdivide the beat into three equal parts by using the letters k and d. When there are sixteenth notes in compound meter, the beat can be subdivided into six equal parts by adding the letter “p.”

Subdividing the beat in compound meter with sixteenth notes and rests

The letter p is used for each sixteenth subdivision that occurs between the eighth note subdivisions that were covered in the last lesson, as shown below.

Subdividing sixteenth notes in compound meter 6/8 time

Before you play any of the rhythm patterns in this lesson, it is a good idea to practice counting those subdivisions with a metronome to get used to them. If you find it too difficult to pronounce all of those letters, another option is to use a word that has five syllables. A good example is the word “sophisticated.” There are two drawbacks to this method, though. For one, it takes a lot more space to write in a word, as shown below. Also, the syllables do not match the triple subdivisions that we learned in the last lesson.

Using words to subdivide the compound meter beat

Or, if you used the word “cookie” for the rhythms in the last lesson, you can subdivide the beat further by adding the word “per.” Although it sounds a little funny, with practice you can subdivide the beat that way, too.

Using the word "cookie" to subdivide the beat in compound meter

Using the system of "1-p-k-p-d-p-2-p-k-p-d-p" is the most efficient and easiest to write. However, you can use whichever method is easiest to say, as long as you know where each subdivision of the beat occurs, and how the rhythms relate to the beat.



Practice SuggestionsLesson 15 Practice Suggestions

Practice PatternsLesson 15 Practice Patterns


Sixteenth notes in compound meter practice patterns

Learn how to play triplets in Lesson 16.

Write your own rhythms and music compositions! Get free blank staff paper at www.music-paper.com.


Get the Book

The Fundamentals of Rhythm, book by Kyle Coughlin

Fundamentals of Rhythm book

If you would like all of this information in book format so that you can put it on your music stand and practice it wherever you go, get The Fundamentals of Rhythm, by Kyle Coughlin. The book includes all of the lesson information and practice exercises found on the website.


Use MetronomeBot for a fun online metronome!

MetronomeBot, the talking online metronome

The online metronome that counts the beat, subdivides, and offers encouraging practice tips.

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