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Odd time signature help needed

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by relman, Aug 17, 2002.

  1. I am very interested in writing music where different instruments/sections of a band are playing in different time signatures. However, it seems very hard to make them sound cohesive. Is there any method that will help me besides basic feel? (I read a while ago about an East Indian method using a single word to space out things or something like that...i think it was in the Phish book, and Trey was the one mentioning such word/method)


  2. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    we do this sometimes. the most important aspect of it is to build it around the melody you have in mind. otherwise it just sounds like chasing your tail.

    done properly, it sounds like songs in the round - it's a very cool tool, but can be a bit difficult to execute properly. transitions to other sections of music can also be dicey.

    i'd say the best thing to do is to experiment with it - come up with a melody and then accent different aspects of it with different instruments.
  3. smakbass

    smakbass Smakkin basses for 25 years..

    Aug 6, 2002
    Vancouver Canada
    Helps to have a good drummer too
  4. chrisbs


    Jan 12, 2002
    Listen to some Miles Davis for jazz examples.

    Steware Copeland and Yes for rock

    and try Vaughan Williams for classical

    Polyrhythms are in a lot of their work

  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I assume you're talking about bi-metrics(or poly-metrics)?
    If so, how about Mingus' "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting"?
    There's a section where part of the band is in 6/4...the other part is in 4/4.
    BOTH are playing within the same 'bar'.

    To accomplish that-
    The section in 6/4 must be played at a tempo 1.5 times "faster" than what's being played in 4/4.
    Example: If the 4/4 part's tempo is 100bpm, then the 6/4 part must be played @150bpm.

    Basically, it's a math thing(at this point).
    Other formuli against 4/4-
    2/4 = 0.50 = half time
    3/4 = 0.75
    5/4 = 1.25
    6/4 = 1.50
    7/4 = 1.75
    8/4 = 2.00 = double time
    9/4 = 2.25

    Example: If your 4/4 figure = 92bpm & you wanna cram a 7/4 figure in there against it...92(1.75) = 161bpm.

    Tapping out polyrhythms with your hands also helps(IMO); that is, tapping out 4/4 with one hand while tapping out the "polyrhythm" with the other hand.
    Here's "3 against 4"
    In ONE line-

    In BOLD is the "4" component; the "3" component is 1-2-3
    Using BOTH hands-
    RH taps out 1..a..&..e..
    LH taps out 1...2...3...

    Then there's "5 against 4", "6 against 4", "7 against 4", etc.

    Also, & just as important-
    You don't have to fit both meters within the same bar(or same amount of time/space). Some tunes will have, say, the bass playing 4 bars of 5/4 vs. a guitar part playing 5 bars of 4/4. Eventually, they do catch up & play the same "1"...eventually.

    Gotta go, have some fun experimenting...

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