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Hoedown example 1 Hoedown example 3 Hoedown example 5 Schottische example  

             

Pickup notes

Pickup notes are the notes in the incomplete measure (the pickup measure) at the beginning of some songs and fiddle tunes. Not all songs or tunes have them. When they don't, it is because the melody begins on the beat. "Jingle Bells" provides a good example of a song with a pickup measure in one part and none in the other.

If you count off "1-2-3-4," you can hear that "Dashing through the snow," that is, "Dash-" starts on the beat. Look and listen below.

However, when you get to the end of the verse, "sleighing song to-" is one measure, and "-night." is the next. "-night." is only worth a quarter note, exactly half a measure, as we're in 2/4 time. We could complete the measure, but we're finished with the verse and the next note begins the chorus. We need the "Oh," to complete the measure. But does the song mean to say, "sleighing song tonight. Oh."? Of course not. It says "Oh, jingle bells,". So what shall we do?

The example below illustrates how this is presented. The last measure of the verse is left incomplete, and the "Oh," assumes its proper role and place as the pickup measure at the beginning of the chorus. It too is worth a quarter note, so "-night" and "Oh," together make a full measure. You can hear that the accompaniment is uninterrupted as we go from the verse to the chorus.

Unlike "Jingle Bells," few of the songs and tunes in Dear Old Illinois are likely to be familiar to anyone. Separating the parts is particularly useful, as it makes it clear what belongs to which part and makes it convenient to practice parts individually if desired.

We will look at some different pickup measure possibilities for a fiddle hoedown, to give you a bit of an introduction to their variability. We will just use the pickup measure and first full measure for our illustrations below, but to give you a better bearing point, here is the first line of the piece we'll use for our example.

Example 1: one 8th note

The pickup measure is occupied by a single 8th note. The counter clicks off a full measure in 16th notes, and there are eight of them in a measure:
2/4 time, per measure= two quarter notes or four 8th notes or eight 16th notes.

If we imagine that the pickup measure is a complete measure, the pickup note naturally comes at the end of the measure. It is an 8th note, so it is worth two 16th notes. So, it aligns with clicks 7 and 8 of the counter, as you can hear. For the sake of making it clear that the pickup measure is incomplete, only clicks 7 and 8 are shown in the image.

Now let's add the guitar, and you can clearly hear the first beat (downbeat.)

Now we will speed it up so you can hear what an 8th note pickup sounds like at nearer to normal speed. Note: As with the examples on the "Time" page, the click-off counter changes to quarter notes, which is more appropriate for this tempo than the 16th note counter.

The examples all follow the pattern above: first slow with just the counter, then slow with the counter and guitar, then at faster tempo with the guitar.

 

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Example 2: two 16th notes

Here again the pickup measure is worth an 8th, but this time the pickup notes are two 16th notes. So again, the first one will hit on the 7th click of the counter.

 

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Example 3: one 16th note triplet

Triplets are groups of three notes that say "diddle-da". But beyond that, the individual values of the notes are not normal. Most commonly (always, in the book) the value of the triplet is double, not triple, the value of the notes shown. For example, the 16th note triplet you're about to hear is worth a total of an 8th, not three 16th notes. So, once again it will start on the 7th click of the counter.

 

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Example 4: one 16th note and two 32nd notes

This combination sounds nearly identical to the triplet above, as rendered by the notation program. In human performance, the difference is a bit more pronounced but still subtle. Incidentally, this is the actual pickup measure for the version of this piece given in the book.

 

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Example 5: one 16th note

Though all of our examples have been worth an 8th total so far, pickup measures can be of any duration short of a full measure. Here is another common one for fiddle hoedowns, a single 16th note. It will come in on the 8th click of the counter.

 

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Example 6: waltz

As with the examples on the Time page, the "base units" of the counter change to 8th notes for a waltz, and there are six of them per measure. Also, there are two click-off measures. Just one seemed off-balance somehow. The pickup notes are two 8th notes, so they will come in on the 5th and 6th clicks of the counter's second measure. The first click of each measure is accented. Note:As above, in the faster example, the counter changes to quarter notes.

 

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Example 7: schottische

The melody of the schottische is characterized by frequent use of an 8th note followed by a 16th note, a pattern that commonly includes the pickup measure, as it does in our example. The counter is back to clicking off 16th notes, six per measure, and again there are two click-off measures. Every half measure is accented (every 3rd 16th note click.) The pickup notes are an 8th and a 16th, for a total of three 16ths or half a measure. So the pickup begins on the 4th click of the second click-off measure (4, 5, and 6.)

 

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Example 8: jig

In our final example, a jig, the counter is back to clicking off 8th notes, six per measure, and there is one pickup measure. The pickup notes are two 8ths, so they fall on clicks 5 and 6. The counter stays on 8th notes for the faster example, and it's a bit quick, but you will get the idea.

 

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