How to Read Music – Lesson 18 – Eastman Counting System (Compound Meters)

The Eastman Counting System is a method of counting rhythms using a mixture of numbers and syllables. In this lesson we will continue learning this system with the compound meters.

The 3 basic rules for counting any compound rhythm are:

1. Say the number of the beat on the beat.

2. Say “La” and “Li” on the division of the beat.

3. Say “Ta” on the subdivision of the beat.

In an example of 6/8 there will 2 beats and each beat equals a dotted quarter note.

So 2 quarter dotted quarter notes will be counted as 1, 2.

When counting compound meters as we learned in Lesson 16 the beat will divide into 3 equal parts.

If we have a measure full of eighth notes it will be counted as: 1 La Li 2 La Li, because we use the syllable “La” and “Li” to show the two divisions of the beat, which in this case will be the eighth notes on the 2nd and 3rd bart of the beat.

The next level of counting will the subdivision of the beat, or the next level smaller than the division of the beat. This will be 16th notes in 6/8. So a measure of 16th notes will be counted as: 1 Ta La Ta Li Ta 2 Ta La Ta Li Ta.

In the video above there is also an example of a more complicated rhythm that combines all three levels and shows you the correct counting using this system.

To help you remember and more easily see this information visually, you can download the free Eastman Counting System Compound Meter poster.

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This entry was posted in Bars, Compound Meter, Eastman Counting System, How to Read Music, Rhythm, Rhythm Counting, Rhythmic Values, Time Signatures. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Gilbert

    HELP! free Eastman Counting System Compound Meter poster link does not work!

    • leonharrell

      Hi Gilbert,

      I will fix this as soon as I can. There must be something going on with the server. I’ll post a reply to this when it is fixed. Thanks for letting me know.

    • leonharrell

      Hi Gilbert,

      I am so sorry to have taken so long to fix this, but I have fixed the link to the Eastman Counting System Compound Meter Poster. Here is the link:

      Thanks again for letting me know it was broken,

      -Leon Harrell