Demystifying Cut Time by Chuck Anderson
Cut Time is a source of confusion for many musicians. What exactly does it mean and how do you apply it? Here is a guest lesson by internationally renowned jazz guitarist and educator Chuck Anderson
Additional Content Available for Premium Site Access Plans Only
This content requires a Premium / Gold Access Plan and or enrolled in the Study with Curt - On-line or Private Lesson Program.
Cut Time is a source of confusion for many musicians. What exactly does it mean and how do you apply it?
Too often cut time is thought of as having two beats in a measure. There are not two beats in a measure of cut time - there are four beats in a measure of cut time. So what makes this different than common time ie four beats in the measure?
The confusion all centers on understanding the difference between the concepts of beats and pulses. It certainly doesn’t help that virtually everyone who counts off cut time does so with a 1 - 2 1 - 2 count. The confusion about the beats is understandable especially with this misleading counting convention. The 1 -2 1-2 is accounting for the two pulses in the measure not two beats.
In traditional common time, each beat is represented by a foot tap. Four beats in a measure - four taps of the foot. If you don’t tap your foot, think of a metronome which clicks on each of the four beats.
When you play in cut time, the beat will feel slower but it’s an illusion. The beat itself is exactly the same speed as it was in common time. It’s your foot or the pulse that’s moving half as fast.
Think of a measure of four in two equal halves. Beats one and two represent the first half of the measure and beats three and four represent the second half of the measure. The first half of the measure gets the first tap or click. The second half of the measure gets the second tap or click - two pulses to the measure.
Here’s a simple example: Four quarter notes in a measure of common time. The foot tap or click occurs on each quarter note. If the quarter notes were to be read in cut time, the foot would now tap on beats one and three. The speed of the quarter notes would remain the same as if being read in common time. Since the foot now taps on beats one and three, the “feel” of cut time is established. Although I’ve never heard anyone do it, I always felt that the count off for cut time should be 1 - 3 1 - 3 not 1 - 2 1 - 2.
When is cut time used? Broadway music, sambas, polkas, bluegrass, classical, many ethnic forms and anytime the tempo gets so fast that it would be unwieldy to count and tap in four. In the case of a runaway tempo, the cut time is used as a convenience, sometimes a self defense. In all the other situations, it is intended to produce a definite and distinctive feel.
When chords are being played in cut time on piano, the root is played on the left hand on beat one, the chord on the right hand on beat two, the fifth on the left hand on beat three and the chord on the right hand on beat four. The bass notes on beat one and on beat three create a strong stress that is responsible for the “two” feel of cut time. A guitar player hits a bass note on one, a chord on two, an alternate bass note on three and a chord on four. These are all down strokes and produce the characteristic “Boom - Chuck’ sound. These piano and guitar applications are both in the accompaniment role not the reading melody role.
Cut time is not as difficult as it seems. Play melodies in four and then in cut time so that you can see and feel the difference and similarities between them. You’ll find that they’re not as incompatible or as difficult as you feared!
Reprinted by permission from Chuck Anderson • www.ChuckAndersonJazzGuitar.com
Related Lessons for Demystifying Cut Time by Chuck Anderson at this time.
Related Books for Demystifying Cut Time by Chuck Anderson at this time.
Related Lesson Series
Related Lessons Series for Demystifying Cut Time by Chuck Anderson at this time.
Modular Phonetic Rhythm by Chuck Anderson
Updated: Jan 1, 2003
Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm. Eliminating many inefficient aspects of rhythm education, Modular Phonetic Rhythm streamlines the traditional educational approach, resulting in a reflexive reaction to rhythm.
Site Access Plans for LearningUkulele.com
Forever Access - With Forever Premium Access, you get Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources, related assets, and ALL books by Curt as FREE downloads. Pretty much everything on the site and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment again. And jump the queue for responding to any questions.
If your anything like me (Curt) and getting Subscription overload with everything on-line wanting money from you once a month — I'm with you. For like-minded individuals, this forever plan is a pay once and your done.
The price for Unlimited Forever access is right around the cost of a few months of private lessons. I can guarantee that is more material on-line to keep you busy for a long, long time. And, you get all of my books for FREE. That along is more than the cost of this plan.
Basic Access - A limited selection of basic lessons — ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup. HOWEVER - I've been doing ukulele and LearningUkulele.com since 2003 and probably have given too much away already - as reflected in my income from the site in relationship to the time spent on the site. So help support this site and its continued development by signing up for one of the below Premium Access Plans or buy a few of my books. - Thanks, Curt
NOTE: Each higher access level includes ALL the benefits of the lower levels. Private Lessons include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on the schedule.
Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee
Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys
Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg
I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland
Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!
Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II.
33 years ago.
“Built for myself (Curt), and sharing with the `Ukulele community!”
LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!
Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.