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Good way to count odd meters?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bassjamn, Oct 11, 2004.

  1. bassjamn

    bassjamn Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    I have an audition with a retro prog group(Yes, Gentlegiant 70's style)
    so i need to get my odd meter internal clock going again. Might be a silly question but how do you guys count odd meter's while playing a tune that has a lot of space? Also how do you handle odd meter jams ?

    I got into the habit of counting time that i was not playing, so if i had a tune in 11/8 and played 8th notes on
    1,2 i would count the rest

    Any better methods you may have out, please inform :bag:
  2. sedgdog


    Jan 26, 2002
    Pasco, WA
    There is a good book on this subject you may want to pickup. It's called "Odd Meter Bassics" by Dino Monoxelos. It's one of the Musician's Institute series published by Hal Leonard. It goes through all of the common odd time meters.

    All the best,
  3. Count 11/8 as 5-and-a-half beats.

    So go: 1....2....3....4....5..1....2....3....4....5

    You get the idea.
  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I guess it must be a personal thing, some things will work easier for some folk than others... the idea of couting 5.5 beats is too much for my tiny brain that's for sure.

    Anyway, I think it depends on the groove of the piece of music, if it feels like a bar of 5 and two bars of 3, then count it that way.. if it feels like 3 bars of 3 plus two beats, count it that way.

    That odd meter basics book is good actually... it says you should clap all the excercises from the notation before your play the, it's hard work!! :)
  5. bassjamn

    bassjamn Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    Thanks for the info guys, ill keep my eyes peeled for the book.
  6. Don't see what's so hard about counting 5.5, etc.

    Whenever it has an 8 in it, like 7/8 or 11/8, count it in half.
  7. bassjamn

    bassjamn Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    Yes it's easy if it's a odd meter tune easy to feel, for example like soundgardens outshined in 7 Feels right.

    if it's a compound meter with a drum sequence that feel's very odd like a broken up line 123-12345-123 etc... It is not so easy to count straight through.
    So thought i would get the odd meter experts advice here on TB
  8. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    Don't count - just get into the groove. There must be some specific reason that the song you're playing is in 11/8. something like a melody, the drums or a bass groove.So listen to the drums and pick up what he's doing or make up a groove/pattern yourself. You may need to count at first, but as soon as you have the groove then don't count it anymore. The music is either gonna sound like you're counting or groovin' :)
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I know what you mean, it helps me settle into a groove if I feel it at half time... but, to me, feeling 5.5 beats is no easier than feeling 11 beats, I think it's probably harder

    Most people count they rhythm they tap their feet to, I dont think many people would find it helpful to tap their foot 5.5 times to a bar. By counting 1/2 beats you would potentially cut an upbeat/ down beat in half, I dont see any logic in counting against the groove unless the downbeat is tied over the bar line.

    To me, the easiest way seems to break the bar into groups of beats that you can feel easier relative to the piece of music. We can all play in 3 and 4 easy enough so why not find a way to group the groove, meldoy or changes into meters that are more easy.
  10. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    This has reliably worked for me. Seems tough when you talk about it, but it's easier in practice (relatively of course).
  11. bassjamn

    bassjamn Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    Groovin tune Geoff. :bassist:
  12. That's where counting in half REALLY helps!
  13. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I find that I have a hard time counting and playing at the same time. They way I generally do it is breaking down the section into phrases. Typically an odd meter riff will have two distinct sounding phrases within them (to my ears anyway) - think of them as two smaller phrases played back to back, and you may find grooving in odd meters easier.

    Take this with a grain of salt, as I have a tough time playing in 4/4. Seriously.
  14. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i parse things in 2's and 3's, based on the time sig and the most appropriate phrasing for the tune.

    i've heard that half-count thing before, but that just seems really unnecessarily hard for me. still, though, whatever works :).
  15. bassjamn

    bassjamn Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    I remember learning KC's Larks tongues 4 in segments of 3's and 2's, I guess i was going down the right path. My past teachers were no help in these matters :(

    That makes sense, I just hope these guys dont break into some wierd 15 / 8 jam and see how i do hehe

    Only 1 week til audition, 3 songs left to learn... :bassist:
  16. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I feel that intro as 6 then 5 beats, because a clear down beat is played on beats 1 and 7. By counting (feeling) 5.5 beats I'd not be feeling those downbeats in the same way whcih would affect my groove.

    Of course, as was said above 'whatever works'. I'm not the guy playing it!! :D

    Obviously the head is intended to be played very stacatto, but I have to say I dont think it grooves very well. That's not supposed to be a personal attack of any sort, rather, I think it's a problem inherant with odd meters (with complex music), and the stacatto just adds to the rigidity.

    No offence intended whatsoever, I doubt I could do any better. As a piece of music, I just dont think it flows, even when you move into 8 for the chorus, the drums are the main culprit I think, it feels as tho every 8th note is being hit so the drummer doenst loose his place (which I can entirely relate to!!). Sorry if that's out of order in anyway.

    I just think odd meters are great if you can make them groove as strong as we all can in 4. If you cant, they just feel awkward. That's just my opinion mind.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I listened to it and I know what you mean - but I couldn't help thinking of how appropriate the title was - as in, odd time is often thought of as a straitjacket - maybe a bit of ironic humour going on....? ;)
  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Yeah, that occured to me too, which I why I said that it was clearly meant to be very stacatto, but it still feels overly awkward, even in the solos in 8, it's the drumming I think.

    This is entirely why I dont find odd meters particularly fun - I dont enjoy playing music that doesnt flow, music that is jerky.

    I wrote a piece cycling on [7/8, 7/8, 4/4] that feels perfectly natural... altho it really feels like [4, 3, 4, 3, 4] because the chords change on the 5th beat of the bars in 7.

    Again, it's been said so many times, but I think the only tunes that work in odd meters are those that are written around a groove that just happens to be in an odd meter, when things are pushed into 7 or whatever it just feels that way, IMO.
  19. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Great thread! :)