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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

    Oct 9, 2012
    Charlottesville, VA
    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


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Of course, Pink Floyd's "Money", in 7/4.
    tlc1976 likes this.
  3. LeopoldBoom


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


    Apr 5, 2005
    "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.
    andruca likes this.
  5. JimK


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


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

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast

    May 7, 2010
    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."
  8. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

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


    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
  10. Hugh Jass

    Hugh Jass

    Oct 10, 2008
    Canada eh
    Some argue the time sig but Black Dog is a weird one.
  11. Richland123


    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)

  12. brooklynbassguy

    brooklynbassguy Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    maplewood, nj, usa
    Promises, promises-Dionne Warwick
    People make the world go round-Stylistics
  13. johndough247

    johndough247 Supporting Member

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

    johndough247 Supporting Member

    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
  16. 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."
  17. 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.
  18. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL

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


    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.