# Time Signatures

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Ozzy666_420, Oct 16, 2002.

1. ### Ozzy666_420

Hi.....I have a Q about time signatures. If I had a measure that was full of 5 beats and a quarter note gets a beat, then the next measure was full of 4 beats and a quarter note gets a beat and the measures alternate what is the time signature?

what I am thinking, is that it is 5/4+4 am I right?

I know it can be 9/4 I just want to know if it would be 5/4+4

thx

2. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
Oz-

There are 2 possibilities. You can have 1 bar of 9/4 or more likely a measure of 5/4 followed by a measure of 4/4. I've never heard of 5/4+4 (at least in that terminology) Hope this helps

Mike

3. ### Ozzy666_420

What it turns out to be is 9/4(5/4+4) or it can be 5/4-4/4

which is pretty much what you said.

I guess that how it would be written in a score so that it would be 5/4 in one measure and 4/4 in the next and it alternates.

thx a lot

4. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Do you mean 9/4 (5+4/4) or something similar? It's just 5/4+4 doesn't make too much sense to me, I've only ever seen it written 5+4/4 or 5,4/4 - i.e. 5+4 or whatever on top, and just 4 on the bottom.

5. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
If your in 9/4 there has to be a place(s) that the measure is divided. In 4/4 6/8 or any of the more common times, the beat division is felt pretty natural. As we venture into odd time signatures, we find it more difficult to find the pulse. If you listen to "Take Five" by Paul Desmond (Dave Brubeck) the feel is definitely 3+2. If you go to my MP3 site (or better yet buy my CD) -

mike's MP3 site

check out Little Sister - it is in 10. 4+4+2

Mike

6. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California
Hey Mike, I'm sort of new to the world of Theory and talkbass. I have been studying my scales, triads, intervals, key signatures....and so on. I haven't been really studying time signatures. It didn't really matter to me because I would make stuff up, but never write it down. Now that I am writing stuff down I find it really hard to pick out a time signature. Also when I am listening to songs I have no idea to tell what the time signature is. My question is how do I determine/pick out a time signature?

7. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
As your listening to music find the pulse of the music, listen to the drum beat and determine the strong and weak beats. Count how many beats in between strong beats - there are usually four, sometimes 3. There can also be multiples of them. 4 quarter notes per measure or 4/4 time is the most common and is therefore called "common time" (duh!). You will hear a strong pulse on beat 1 and sometimes on 3 (bass drum) - you'll hear the weaker beat (snare drum) on 2 and 4. Start listening for this. Let me know when you hear it and we can move on from there

Mike

8. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California
I hear it pretty well, but on some songs i totally get lost.

9. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
Give me an idea of some of the tunes your having trouble with. Perhaps we can use one as an example

Mike

10. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California

Here is one

11. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California
and another.

12. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Not wishing to step in on Mike's territory...

I think they're both in common time, actually. It's just that the guitar parts are syncopated to the extent that it doesn't sound like it. If you listen to the drums, the repeating pattern appears to be two bars of 4 in "Elastic", and 1 bar of 4 in "Rational Gaze". It is a little difficult to tell from those short sound samples though, given the... erm... messy (for want of a better word) style of the music.

By the way - there's no point in zipping up MP3s. It doesn't really make them any smaller, MP3s are compressed anyway.

13. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
I couldn't really hear the first one, but this one is clearly in 4. Listen to the snap of the snare drum every four beats - it's a dead giveaway.

Mike

14. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California
ahh it is in 4. The guitar kinda threw me off.

15. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California
Yes I know, but I don't have a site that I can upload them to, and this site(or any other) won't let you attach mp3's.

Yea I got really thrown off by the guitars.

I'll post another.

16. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California
There.

17. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
I think that one is essentially in 5/4. Does that clip begin at the start of a bar? I'm not sure. Ignoring the first bar, I'd say you've got 2 bars of 5/4, then a bar of 1/4, then more bars of 5/4. It might not be a bar of 1/4, you could just look at it as an extra beat on the second bar of 5/4. To me it sounds like kinda an intentional false start to the third bar.

18. ### h3llRa][seR

Sep 22, 2002
Lathrop, California
Yes the clip begins from the start. 5/4? How could you tell?

19. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
It's a matter of hearing the repeated pattern. When you can identify where the repeated pattern starts, you can count the beats until the next time it starts, if you see what I mean.