# Simple and Compound Rhythmic Groupings Demystified

In this month’s adventure in rhythm, we explore the differences and similarities between duple and triple beat divisions and meters.
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IN THIS MONTH’S ADVENTURE IN RHYTHM, we explore the differences and similarities between duple and triple beat divisions and meters. Not unlike binary code’s language of ones and zeroes, any rhythmic division can be encrypted using a combination of twos and threes. Who cares? You should, because if you can’t feel it, you can’t play it.

KEEP IT SIMPLE (OR COMPOUND MATTERS)

There are two basic types of rhythmic groupings: “simple” and “compound.” In simple time, each beat is divided by two. Dividing a note in half produces a strong downbeat followed by a weaker upbeat. Simple time signatures include 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/4. In compound time, beats are initially divided by three. Dividing a note by three produces a strong downbeat followed by two weaker beats. Compound time signatures include 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8. All other groupings of time (5/4, 7/4, 5/8, 7/8, etc.) are derived from various combinations of twos and threes. Ex. 1 illustrates both simple and compound divisions derived from a single whole-note.