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Emphasis in different time sigs

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Gunnar Þór, Mar 16, 2002.

  1. I was wondering where you emphasise a not in odd time signatures.

    Like in 4/4 it goes 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
    and in 3/4 1 2 3 1 2 3
    and I think it goes 1 2 3 4 5 6 in 6/4

    But how about time signatures like 5/4? Or 7/8? Which notes do you emphasise there?
  2. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    I think it goes on every other beat like

    in 7/4
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    However, if I remember right, 1 is more emphazed than 5 Cuz the empazized beats gradually become weaker , in classic theory (if i remember right)

    Obviously emphazing 1 is the most important thing to do....
  3. don't forget reggae.

    1 2 3 4

    Edit: YAY!!! my 1000 post!!! *does a happy little jig*
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    Stravinsky wrote in his "Poetics of Music" that there are only ever really three possible accent patterns in music: groups of one, groups of two, and groups of three, and that everything else is just combinations of these groups. He also allowed that groups of four were possible, but explained them as two groups of two with a weak accent on the second group. I think this is pretty sound advice, and who would know better than him?

    If you apply this way of thinking to your question, then you can categorically construct all of the possible permutations in the odd meters you are practicing and work with them that way. For instance, in 5/4, you could have:


    Having said all of that, I find that the most common of all are the permutations involving groups of two and three. In 5/4, these would be:

    2+3 (12123 12123...)
    3+2 (you get the picture)

    In 7/4, you could have




    There are a bunch of great examples of this in Bartok's microkosmos if you want to practice reading some of these.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    Depends on the style too....swing at 4/4 emphasises on 2 and 4 while latin does it on the 1 and 3...
  6. Well, I was reading the other day that in reggae the bass drum emphasises the 3rd beat so the bass would still be emphasising beats 1 and 3, it's the guitar that plays the upbeats. Could be wrong though.

    PS. Congrats on the 1000th post.

    Thanks everyone for clearing that up for me, "weird" time sigs, I'm on my way. :)

    Yay! My name was twisted into something entirerly different by Chris! I feel like I'm no longer a new guy here. :p
  7. I read somewhere that the most important beat in Latin is the 4. I think it was a bass player interview with bassist who played for Ruben Gonzalez (not sure if this is the correct name)
  8. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    Yes, the short answer is that I think of them in just that way: 1212123 1212123 etc.

    The long answer is that with odd meters (as with common ones) you need to develop the ability to hear in both small and large scales at the same time, so that you hear both the breakdown of each measure while still retaining your space in the overall layout of multiple measures in the form. When I count in the "micro" sense (as above), another part of me is also counting the measures as they go by:

    1212123 2212123 3212123 etc...

    It sounds hard, but really it's like riding a bike once you get used to it: once you finally get it, it'll always be there.
  10. Dave Holland says that the way he plays odd times ,say 11/4, is to get the the eleven into his musical conciousness the way the 4 is in 4/4. Once you have done this it is easier to apply all sorts of things that you would normally use in 4/4 etc like playing across the bar line. Of course i am a mere mortal and split the bar up into subdivisions of 1 2 3 like chris said. I guess its why Dave sounds so natural when playing odd time signatures. :)
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Yeah, I concur 100%.
    4/4 is relatable to me(& many other Westeners reared on American Pop music) 'cause I/we have mostly listened to music in 4.
    Others in different cultures may relate to ODD times 'cause that's what they've been brought up on(ever see or hear a Greek wedding band? Caramba!). ;)

    My whole thing with attempting what you're sayin' is this-
    There's more than ONE way to 'get it'.
    In a different thread here @TB, it seems to me that some are locked into ONE way of counting...
    A couple of things I'm constantly working on-
    1)Counting ODD against 4("5 over 4"; "7 over 4"; also "3 over 4" & "6 pver 4")
    2)Counting in HALF TIME.
    ...rather than counting 1-2-3-4-5-6-sev
    One would count to 3 and a 1/2(3 1/2 + 3 1/2 = 7, right?).
    IMO, this approach works well when there appears to be an shortage of ACCENTS &/or landmarks that assist one in 'keeping their place'.
    An example? I'm thinking of "Mikuro's Blues" by the David S. Ware 4-tet(from Go See The World). The tune is in 5...for me, playing that 2-bar figure while counting to 2 1/2 works out nicely. That's me, though... ;)
  12. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000

    any tips on how to set a metronome to this type of stuff, or any good practice ideas, so that i dont fall off the bike while im trying to learn to ride it :D
  13. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Doesn't it depend on what style of music you're doing? Or, put another way, wouldn't you want to phrase your syncopations based on what the rest of the band is (or isn't) doing?
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Unless you have a programmable 'Nome or drum machine of some kind, about all you can do is either:

    a) Set the 'Nome to the smallest subdivision of the time signature (i.e. - in 7, you'd set it to click on EACH BEAT of the 7 and do the subdivision yourself), or

    b) Do what Ed says and play in two bar phrases as he describes. If you're a newbie to this stuff, I'd suggest the first option, as it's less confusing.

    c) A third option is to record a metronome track yourself on a percussion instrument, and then practice along with that.
  15. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I'll go out and buy a programable nome, It seems easiest that way. So untill I get the nome Ill get up with a drummer friend of mine and have him record the nome from his Roland V-Custom kit.

    Thanks Much for your help :D
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well in most "classic" reggae the bass line avoids the first beat of the bar : "one drop" and doesn't play anything at all on that beat!

    Getting back to the main topic - the only way I get these things is to practice with my micrcomposer - a lot!
  17. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    you don't need to go out and buy one, i'm sure there are some free sequencers available on the net that could be programmed on your computer to provide a click in various time sigs.
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...and since it is that time of the season for a lotta us-
    "Everything's Alright" from Jesus Christ Superstar has the same figure(l1__&__4_5_l).

    That "Half Time" counting thing, for me at least, is still a mental exercise that I have not truly assimilated into 'playing'.
    As far as the Odd Times, it was a drummer that turned me onto it. He demonstrated a bass figure("sang" it)while snapping the time(3 & a half) with his fingers.
    IMO, it was happenin'...reminded me of the type of groove played by Kennedy/Haslip of The Yellowjackets. Made me consider why some guys groove differently; made me consider other options than my "Bachman-Turner Overdrive count" of l1-2-3-4l1-2-3-4l etc
    I sure miss that guy; spoiled me rotten if ya get my drift(remember, I'm NOT in NYC!). ;)

    As far as counting "Half Time" in 4-
    I found the Ed Friedland article that hipped me to it-
    Here's a blurb; disect or rip it apart- ;)
    While playing a busy groove, "instead of tapping your foot on every quarter-note, tap it on every half-note. Tapping slower removes the anxiety of having to play at a fast tempo, & it relaxes you. It will also help anchor the 16th-notes to the time grid, which makes them easier to play".


  19. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I wouldnt even begin to know where to find sequences on here JT.
  20. aaguudis


    Apr 3, 2001
    no. reggae bass and drums and the whole vibe, downbeat is on 2 and 4. it gets confusing because of the guitar, which plays on the "and" as in one-AND two-AND three-AND four-AND and doesnt really accent the 2 or 4.

    just listen to the bass drum.

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