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Popular Songs with Odd Time Signatures

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by LeeNunn, Jan 25, 2014.


  1. LeeNunn

    LeeNunn Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2012
    I have always been intrigued by the fact that Dave Brubeck's Take Five is so popular given that it's in 5/4. Yesterday I realized the Allman Brothers' Whipping Post alternates between 11/8 and 12/8.

    What other popular songs come to mind that are in odd time signatures?
     
  2. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

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    Hamburg, Germany
    Of course, Pink Floyd's "Money", in 7/4.
     
  3. LeopoldBoom

    LeopoldBoom

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    Aug 27, 2012
    Location:
    Ireland
    Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill is in 7/4
     
  4. slagbass

    slagbass

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    Apr 5, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    "Turn it on Again" by Genesis. I had to check Wikipedia for the time sig:
    "The song is also characterised by a rhythmic structure uncharacteristically complex for pop music, with verse/chorus sections in alternating time signatures, 6/4 to 7/4 (13/4), while the intro and bridge sections are in 4/4 and 5/4 (9/4)."

    The drummer in my old band always used to get a kick out of people stumbling on the dancefloor to this one. Fun song to play.
     
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  6. JimK

    JimK

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    Dec 12, 1999
    "Living In The Past" is in 5.
     
  7. JimK

    JimK

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    Dec 12, 1999
    "St. Augustine In Hell" by Sting is in 7 (IIRC).
     
  8. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

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    Tool's "Schism"

    From Wikipedia:

    ""Schism" is renowned for its use of uncommon time signatures and the frequency of its meter changes. In one analysis of the song, the song alters meter 47 times.[4] The song begins with two bars of 5/4, followed by one bar of 4/4, followed by bars of alternating 5/8 and 7/8, until the first interlude, which consists of alternating bars of 6/8 and 7/8.

    The following verse exhibits a similar pattern to the first, alternating bars of 5/8 and 7/8. The next section is bars of 6/4 followed by one bar of 11/8. This takes the song back into alternating 5/8 and 7/8. Another 6/8 and 7/8 section follows, and after this the song goes into repeating 7/8 bars.

    The middle section is subsequently introduced, consisting of three bars of 6/8, one bar of 3/8, and one bar of 3/4 repeating several times. At one point it interrupts with two bars of 6/8 followed by a bar of 4/8, twice. A bar of 5/8 is played before the meter switches back to 6/8 for two bars and 2/4 for one bar. This repeats, setting up another section: two bars of 9/8 followed by a bar of 10/8, that pattern again, and then a single bar of 9/8 followed by alternating bars of 6/8 and 7/8. The outro has alternating bars of 5/8 and 7/8, ending with alternating 6/8, 2/8 that one could interpret as pulsing with a 4/4 feel.

    The band has referred to the time signature as 6.5/8.[5] Although many composers would use 13/16 instead, 6.5/8 is still a valid fractional time signature."
     
  9. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

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    Aug 22, 2011
    That's a rather charitable use of the word "valid"
     
  10. JimK

    JimK

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    Dec 12, 1999
    Yeah, I agree. I have heard of counting in 1/2 time... so in 7, it would be 3 1/2. Broken into 1/16th note subdivisions, l1e&a2e&a3e&a4el
     
  11. Hugh Jass

    Hugh Jass

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    Location:
    Canada eh
    Some argue the time sig but Black Dog is a weird one.
     
  12. Richland123

    Richland123

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    Apr 17, 2009
    Here are a fewe. I'm not sure what time signature these would be.

    Sting - Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)

     
  13. brooklynbassguy

    brooklynbassguy Supporting Member

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    maplewood, nj, usa
    Promises, promises-Dionne Warwick
    People make the world go round-Stylistics
     
  14. johndough247

    johndough247 Supporting Member

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    If memory serves correctly, Black Dog is in 4/4 (or 2/2 if you prefer), guitar and bass riff is just ahead of the beat in some spots. There is however a bar of 5/4 at the very end of the "oh yeah" bit.
     
  15. carldogs

    carldogs

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    Beatles - All you need is love, alternates between 4/4 and 3/4.
     
  16. johndough247

    johndough247 Supporting Member

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    Rush - Limelight

    Main riff is in 7/4

    A section is what I'd call different feels of 6/4 (two bars of 3+3, two bars of 4+2, two bars of 3+3) followed by one bar of 4/4

    Can't remember how the rest of the song goes
     
  17. Spectrum

    Spectrum

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    Alexandria, Virginia
    Rush Tom Saywer. From wiki:

    "'Tom Sawyer' begins in 4/4 before switching to 7/8 and 13/16 in the instrumental section. When the instrumental section ends, it returns to 4/4 before changing again to 7/8 for the outro."
     
  18. dkelley

    dkelley

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    maple ridge, bc, canada
    Yea :)

    Actually it's not a valid time signature.... valid time signatures must be I'm a common notation length unit on the top part, so a fraction over a fraction (which is what a floating point value is on top as per their claim) is invalid.

    Normalization in time signatures is part of basic theory rules. If there is a non integer on top then raise the values in equal proportion until they are both integers, or preferably use a compound time signature.
     
  19. gregmon79

    gregmon79 Supporting Member

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    Big +1 here. This is but one of the many reasons I'm a devoted Tool fan. They'll build concepts of songs off of time signatures. Lateralus was originally going to be called 987 I believe as it had something to do with it being based off of an ancient mathematical equation. I think I'm saying this right. I don't even have that quite straight myself. And like I said, I'm an avid Tool fan. Just suck at math and details. They are a band that is always pushing timing boundaries with their music and how they write/compose it. I read somewhere that most the time it's not even conscious. Other times it very much is. They have an amazing way of doing things.
     
  20. kenneffdupriest

    kenneffdupriest Supporting Member

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    just about all of the radio hits Soundgarden had have a 3/4 or 7/8 verse with cut time chorus
     
  21. callofcthulhu

    callofcthulhu

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    Oct 16, 2012
    The vocal pattern counts syllables per line matching a Fibonacci sequence, first counting up then down. Not sure how the time sugnatures fit there as neither 9 nor 7 are Fibonacci numbers. But I don't doubt that they do fit somehow.
     

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