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determining time signatures that aren't 4/4

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by i like tictacs, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. I know what to listen for to know if a certain piece is in 4/4 time. i get so lost when i know something is in 7/8 or 7/4 or even 5/4. are there any things that I should listen for?
  2. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Buy a metronome and listen to it. It'll aid you better than anyone here can. (no offense to those here) You can set it to the odd time meters and hear and feel what they are supposed to sound like. You cant achieve that by reading typing on a screen.
  3. Usually there will be certain strong beats in odd time signatures. I am uncertain as to what these are in popular music, but I bet you could google it. ("strong beats in odd time signature" or omit signature and/or strong)

    More often than in even signature music, odd time signature songs don't stay in one cosistant time. They will usually hop between even and odd signatures or odd and other odd, making it difficult to feel a groove. It is more of a symphonic idea; but music has been changing very rapidly (in some cirlces at least) so maybe a song could groove if written the write way in this time. Personally, I don't listen to many 78 or 54 songs that often. I think the more you listen to it, the more familiar you will be with it.
  4. Eli M.

    Eli M. Life's like a movie, write your own ending

    Jul 24, 2004
    New York, NY
    Strong beats in odd time signatures... One thing to remember is that you can divide the measure into parts. For example, if you're in 5/4 you can hear an emphasis on 1 and 3, or 1 and 4:
    1 2 3 4 5 or 1 2 3 4 5. So you can hear it as a bar of 2 then a bar of 3, or the other way around.

    In 7/4 the measure might be divided into 4 and 3, or 3 and 4:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. So you can hear it as a bar of 4 then a bar of 3, or the other way around.

    You might hear time signatures like this referred to as "two plus three" instead of "five" or "three plus four" instead of "seven" for this reason. In my ear training class the professor would tell us which one we were about to hear (like 2 plus 3 in 5/8) so we would know in advance where to listen for the emphasis.

    The musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" has a couple of good examples of these time signatures. One is "Everything's Alright" which is in 3+2 (mostly - a couple of measures are debatable).
  5. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Another good one is Take 5, again 3+2.

    A couple of good examples of 7/4 and 7/8 are Money by Pink Floyd (3+4) and Up the Hill Backwards by David Bowie (2+2+3, which I hear more as 1.. 2.. 1,2,3)
  6. Is there a sweeter time sig than 7/4? I mean come on this sig just flat-out grooves no matter what!
  7. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Another good 5/4 tune is the original mission impossible theme song.

    Bob Curnow's arrangement of river dance has a lot of different time signatures in it. That would be a good song to practice figuring out time sig's on.
  8. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    13/8 sorta grooves too :)
  9. I find a good way to figure it out is to count the beats of the pulse. and if you like count up to 10, for ecsample, and it divides up into something like 123, 123 ,12,12 (?) or even 1+2+3+4+5+ so it would be 5/4 wouldn't it(?) great, now i've confused myself.

    Isn't 5/4 and 10/4 the same just at a different speed of counting..? :crying: :rollno:

    was trying to help, now need help