1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)


Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by embellisher, Jan 21, 2002.

  1. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    As many of you know, I am trying to teach myself sightreading and theory.

    Now when it comes to time, I understand the value of notes and rests, and basic time signatures like 2/2, 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, etc.

    But odd times, such as 5/4, 7/4, 11/4, 11/8 are giving me fits. I can't feel them the way that I can a 3 or a 4.

    Can anyone recommend some good resources for developing a feel for odd(is compound the word I am looking for?) times, and maybe some songs that I can listen to in which the feel is evident?
  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I have an answer for this, but all of my information and resources are at home and I'm at work right now. I'll post again tonight if someone else already hasn't.
  3. my (former) bass teacher taught me to play in odd time signatures w/ his drum machine. It was an Alesis... it was neat, he could program in odd times like 5/4, 7/12, and he'd just have me improv. over some guitar chord changes, so that i could get a feel for the groove... it was really frustraiting for a long time... then slowly i started to feel the groove, so that it was as familiar as 4/4... sadly, since i've stoped taking lessions, i'm pretty sure i've lost the feel.
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Join the club, man.
    A drummer I used to gig with(& he has spoiled me, the bastid)had this to say about yours truly-
    "I have never met a guy so ingrained in 4/4".

    ...that's NO compliment, either! ;)
    His reasoning why I had difficulties? 4/4(& 3/4 & 6/8)are all I ever listened to...in short, those time sigs were(ARE) relatable.
    So, some listening, THINKING, studying, counting, & writing are required.

    What has helped me-
    Tapping(again!)the ODD against 4/4(polyrhythms).
    Here's "5 vs. 4"-
    Both hands tap together on "1".
    One hand taps on "1"-"2"-"3"-"4"-"5"(the "5" component)
    The other hand taps on "1"-"e of 2"-"& of 3"-"a of 4"(the "4" component)

    Other things to try-
    Take one of your patented 4/4 1-bar figures & ADD an 1/4 note(or two 1/8 notes, one triplet, etc)...whatever, ADD an extra beat!
    Or, take one of your patented 2-bar grooves & SUBTRACT a beat(I did this to "All Blues"...instead of 2 bars in 6, I have one bar in 6 & one bar in 5).

    Or play around with the notes values to yield an 'extra beat'...
    Example: For simplicity's sake, imagine FOUR 1/4 notes in a bar. Now, make the 1st two 1/4 notes = DOTTED 1/4 notes.
    /1___2___3___4___/ becomes
    /1_____&_____4___5___/(this rhythm should look/sound familiar!)

    Also cool(IMO)is making a Samba into something in 3 or 5 or 7...it's wide-open, hope I gave you some food for thought.
    (And it gets dicey when you're playing 'odd' against a drummer doing his thing in 4).
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Yeah, I forgot about that-
    Essentially, that's counting/feeling in HALF-TIME.
    2 1/2 = 5
    3 1/2 = 7
    4 1/2 = 9
    5 1/2 = 11

    If 4/4 = 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a = 16 1/16th notes, right?

    5 = 1e&a2e&a3e = 10 1/16th notes
    /1-2-AND/1-2-AND/ etc

    7 = 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e = 14 1/16th notes
    /1-2-3-AND/1-2-3-AND/ etc
  6. jblake


    Aug 30, 2001
    Gray, ME
    Try breaking the odd times into sections of twos and threes i.e. 5/4 can be felt as a measure of 3 and a measure of 2. 7 can be felt as two bars of 2 and one bar of 3.

    Money by Pink Floyd is a great excercise in 7/4. I'll try to think up a couple others. If you listen to Rush then you've heard it all.

  7. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Um, 7/12?

    Emb, count/tap it out. After doing it enough, you'll eventually get a feel for when the bar repeats. That's the simpletons answers...I'm sure there are better ways, but it works.
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Thanks for the help, guys!

    I suspected that Money was in 7, but I wasn't sure. I know that Rush uses 7/4, 5/4 and 11/4 quite a bit, but they play odd metres so well that it is really difficult for me to tell when they aren't in 4.
  9. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    With quite a lot of time on my hands, I spent a couple of hours today figuring out a bass line by ear. I also wrote the notation for it. Goes to show that it changes time signature every now and then - starts in 4/4 but changes to 6/8 and 7/8. I wasn't aware that there were an odd time signature involved by just listening to it, I just thought it grooved pretty good. It came as quite a surprise when I analyzed the rhythms and... whoa, I can FEEL and GROOVE in 7/8! I don't even have to count anymore! Cool! :cool:

    Sorry if I'm intruding, I just felt like saying it.
  10. jblake


    Aug 30, 2001
    Gray, ME
    Just thought of a couple more songs to check out:

    If you're into Sting at all there are a few tracks off Ten Summoner's Tales in odd times:

    7/4: Love is stronger than Justice and St. Augustine in Hell

    5/4: Seven Days.

    Vinnie Colaiuta plays so damned well on this album that you can barely tell that it's odd time.

    One last bit of advice: Only count when trying to figure out what time the song is in. Don't count when you're playing.

    Slap me if I sound condescending.
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I alluded to this in another thread, but Dave Weckl has a great way of explaining how to feel odd times well. (and that was the point of Embellisher's post) Unfortunately, I can't remember for sure if it's in his second video or his first. I think it's on the second one.

    Very difficult to explain here, but it involves feeling part of the bar in simple time, and the other in compound. I highly recommend asking your drummer to borrow his video (you know he's got it - every drummer in the world bought those vids :D )
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    IMO, that's cool(& important).
    There's also a Reggae-tinged tune in 7 from Sting's Nothing Like The Sun album..."Straight To My Heart".
    The bass plays a figure something like this-
    /1__&_&_&5_6&7_/ = bass' rhythm
    /1_2_3_4_5_6_7_/ = 'the count'

    I guess you can count the 'first part' in 4(1__&_&_&)
    ...& 'the second part' in 3(5_6&7_)

    Hey Packer-
    Trust me, not every drummer is a fan of Weckl's. ;)
    (Does he have a new album out?)
    Anyone else ever hear Colaiuta sitting in with Corea's Akoustic Band? Whew!
    (Dave who?)
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Actually, the only albums Dave has done that I actually like are the two most recent. Both with Tom Kennedy on bass - geeeeeeeez, that guy is a freak - what a monster!
  14. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH

    I few years ago I went to a clinic with Billy Sheehan and drummer Mike Mangini, Mike has a couple of books out teaching how to play in odd meters, he gave a short lecture about how the books work. He said that he thinks of 7/4 as half a beat short of 4/4. He uses that "doubled up" technique for all the other odd time meters, too. He thinks of 5/4 as one beat less than 6. I don't have any more experience with Mike's stuff than that, but he really seemed to know what he was talking about.

    Chris A.
  15. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    7/12 eh? :D

    Anyway, I played bass in a play last summer and some of the songs had really wild key signatures, so for the band leader fellow to help the drummer and I, he had us listen to the recording of the song and count the beats (like for a 7/4 measure hed just have us say "1,2,3,4,5,6,7" along with the tune) then he told us the same thing Chris A said, about thinking about the time signatures as a beat short of a common time signature.
  16. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Truth be told, I have all Weckl's solo discs(except the 'newest', Zone...it's a CD + a DVD of excerpts from his instructional videos). Tower has it for, like, $16.
    Personally, I enjoy stuff like Synergy & Transition...I love Tommy Kennedy's playing & I like Buzz Feiten, etc.
    Weckl's liner notes explain what's going on in each tune; a lotta his tunes have a 6/8 vs. 4/4 counter-rhythm happenin'...pretty typical Latin-esque stuff, huh?
  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Well, you're spot on there. When you boil it down, Weckl is really just a really decent latin drummer. Everything else just follows....
  18. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Dang, I got a book about this a few years ago and I really only skimmed through it so I cant tell if its worth buying or not (although I've generally found the MI series of books to be quite good).

    Anyway its Odd-Meter Bassics by Dino Monoxelos.

    On a similar topic I've a question for American TB ers:

    when talking about timing I see you guys refer to 8ths, 16ths etc. whereas when I learnt theory (here in Ireland) it was crotchets, quavers, minims etc. do you guys use these conventions in the states?
  19. Money is a great one to start with since it goes from 7/4 to 4/4 and then back again...

    When I was playing the drums I had to learn that song, and have since learned it on bass. Doubling up is what I always do now with odd timings.
  20. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey jeff.

    we do a lot in odd time, and the first thing imo is to keep counting. in our instrumental, linked in the sig, we hit almost all of them. :D

    there's a long section near the beginning where we shift back and forth between 7/4 and 7/8. throughout this section, there is a guitar playing in 7/8, and when the sig switches from the slow, 7/4 to the faster 7/8, the guitar sounds like it's slowing down a lot more than it really is. sort of an audio illusion i was going after.

    one little stunt that we do a lot of is to shift an accent at the end of a passage, so that the time sig ends up looking like 7/8 4/4 4/4 9/8 for a 4 measure passage or 3/4 4/4 4/4 5/4 - the unison rush-sounding section in the instrumental has both of those going on. this ends up being 4/4, but with that shifted accent, it sounds more interesting, imo.

    we also do stuff where everyone will be playing in an alternating sig, like 7/8 9/8 , with a real driving 8th note pulse, and the drums will then change and play a section with a more laid back, straight 4/4 beat. that brings out different accents and feels and makes a section that could get boring pretty fast into one that has a bit more interest to the listener.

    then again, we have a section in one of our songs where the drums and bass are playing in 5/4, one of the guitars is playing in 4/4 (cycling around so that they line up only every 5th guitar measure or 4th drum/bass measure, every 20 beats) and the other guitar/synth is soloing. that was fun :D

    i've found some hints that seemed to have worked for me on how to make odd time natural

    1. make a melody. don't start out with something and try to "make it odd", just make a melody, and if it's in an odd time, so be it. same thing with reading odd times - find the melody of the part and sing it to yourself, and then figure out how it fits with the time sig, not the other way around. if you focus on the melodic flow of the part you're to play, the time sig stuff will eventually fall together for you. the melody has the flow, not the sig. the sig needs to serve the melody, not the other way around

    2. when creating something in odd time, try to resolve each section with a pulse note. what i mean by pulse note is a note that corresponds with what time sig denomination you're playing in - 8th note for 7/8, quarters for 5/4, etc. while not essential, this kind of note phrasing helps to hold the pulse of the part together - sort of like resolving a walking line on a chord note after a few blue passing notes.

    3. learn how to count. :D this sounds funny, but what i mean is learn how to count a part out accurately and easily so that you can count it in your sleep. practice counting and subdividing beats so that you can do so easily, without expending too much "processor time".

    just remember, the odd time sig should always serve the melody - the melody is what matters. everything else is artificial, created to help explain and convey the melody.

Share This Page