How to Count in a 3/2 Time Signature

By Celesta Letchworth
3/2 meter can be heard in choral music from the Renaissance period.

The 3/2 time signature indicates there are three half notes in every measure. While it is similar to the 3/4 time signature used in waltzes, the 3/2 time signature is meant to be performed more slowly. The main pulse in most 3/4 musical compositions is felt on beat one, but all three pulses in 3/2 are meant to be played deliberately, with the first beat slightly emphasized. When counting in 3/2, remember each beat is represented by a half note, not a quarter note.

Count “One, Two, Three” for each half note in the measure.

Count quarter notes in 3/2 as you would count eighth notes in 3/4. Six quarter notes in a measure are to be counted as “One And Two And Three And.”

Count whole notes for two beats. A whole note followed by a half note should be counted as “One (two) Three.”

Count eighth notes as you would count sixteenth notes in 3/4. A half note followed by four eighth notes followed by two quarter notes should be counted as “One Two-ee-and-uh Three And.”

Tip

A single note in a 3/2 measure is notated as a dotted whole note, the equivalent of three tied half notes.

About the Author

Celesta Letchworth started writing professionally in 1982 as a technical writer for a computer department. She has since had articles appear in "The Chorister," plays published by Lillenas Publishing Company, and has sold greeting card ideas to Dayspring. Letchworth holds a Master of Music degree from Southern Methodist University.