Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Time Signature


Can you explain to me the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 time signatures and when one or the other is used and why ?

Hi Anthony,

Are you familiar with what time signatures indicate?  The top number is number of beats, the bottom the note which gets the beat.  So, in 3/4, you have 3 quarter notes, in 6/8, you have 6 eighth notes.  In feel, they're just a little different.  3/4 is commonly used in waltzes, classical minuets and the like.  The thing about 6/8, is that it's not always in 6.  Typically, it's in 2.  ONE-2-3, TWO-2-3. So, when in 6, you'd never feel 2 distinct measures of 3.  You'd use it in a situation where the first half of the measure is stressed, and the second, unstressed:  ONE-2-3, two-2-3. Greensleeves, the christmas song (for lack of a better tune) is in 6/8.  The Blue Danube Waltz is in 3/4.  If you were to listen to them both, you could most likely hear that in 3/4, a waltz hits the first bar of each measure heavily:  ONE-2-3, ONE-2-3, ONE-2-3, etc.  

Well, I hope this helps in one way or another.  Feel free to write again if you need help.


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Juanita M. Harris


I can answer most questions on Theory, give suggestions for songwriting and verse, I`m a professional singer and would offer free advice for improving tone for voice, I also arrange and compose, play the violin, viola, piano, bass (electric) and guitar and could help you with some questions on those subjects as well.


Graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of music (1981-1985)
Berklee College of Music Graduate (1996-1998)

The Choral Project ( Jack Conway Trio (

Currently waitng for approval of publication with Colorado Jazz Press
"Sweet in the Morning" arrangement for octet by Bobby McFerrin

Awards and Honors
National Association of Jazz Educators Award for Best Musicianship 1995 (?)'s been a while.

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