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Unusual time signatures

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Waldog, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. Recently I have been really getting into some odd time sig stuff. So has my band. Check out Chris Potter (High Noon off the Gratitude album for example) and Christian McBride (Via Mwandishi off Sci Fi) for what i'm talking about. I'm loving the way it sounds so unusual but still really grooves.

    Anyway, so I've started playing some of this stuff with my band. We are covering High Noon (a bar of 4/4 then a bar of 5/8), and have an original which basically goes 7/8 7/8 7/8 3/8.

    I'm solid on the heads cause they usually stick to the same line, but I'm having trouble when it comes to comping under solos. I often lose the time and think in 4/4 again (or 8/8 as appropriate).

    I have been having some extra rehearsals with my drummer, which has helped us both to feel the time more. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Is there a programmable metronome out there which would handle this sort of stuff?
  2. metalguy2


    Dec 26, 2004
    The best thing I have found is to just.. keep playing in the time signature.. And writing in it. If you can get a hold of a drum machine that would probably be ideal so you can practice it by yourself.
    I have been doing odd and complex time signature for a while now. And now I write lines in 7 like other people normally do in 4.
  3. i would recommend recording your practice sessions or possibly just the guitarist or just the drummer playing. that way, when you are practicing, you have more time to figure out what to play with it since you canjust rewind to the spot you are getting lost in. i find that this helps me a lot since its easier, most of the time, to figure out what stuff goes best with the music while you're practicing and not right on the spot.
    other than that, it just takes repetative practice with your band on getting everything straight.
  4. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I remember hearing a story about Brubeck when he was doing his odd time signature thing(take five, etc)and they just kept playing/practicing until they could "swing just as hard in 5 as they could in 4"..
  5. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Practice makes perfect. Practice at home between sessions. Try to do everything in 7/8 time: warmups, scales, slapping. Any kind of excercise you might do, move it into 7/8. "Odd" times aren't inherently more difficult to play, you just aren't used to them because they aren't as ubiquitous as 4/4 and 3/4.
  6. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    Sing parts away from your instrument.
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "Take Five"-
    A bar of "3" + a bar of "2".
    l1__&__l1_2_l etc.

    There are some tapping exercises you can do 'away' from your instrument-
    One I like is using the 2-bar clave...& then making it 'odd'.

    So, first try it straight-
    RH = /1--&--4-/--2-3---/ RH taps out the 3:2 Clave
    LH = /1---3---/1---3---/  LH taps out 'the pulse' on "1" and "3"
    Now, try making it into "7".
    RH = /1--&--4-/--2-3-/ 
    LH = /1---3---/1---3-/
    In "5"-
    RH = /1--&--4-/--/ 
    LH = /1---3---/1-/
  8. thanks for the suggestions all! will be trying these out over the coming week.
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I checked out "High Noon"...very nasty groove.

    I came up with two(2) bars of 4 + a bar of 5

    Bar 1 = "1", "& of 2", and "& of 4"
    The notes are long, like dotted 1/8th notes...the "& of 4" crosses the barline, too.
    So, there's some upbeats + plus crossing the barline + an odd bar to contend with.

    If you dig Potter, check him & the rest of the Dave Holland 5-tet out on stuff like "Mental Images"(4th tune on Holland's new BB album, Overtime)...another nasty odd groove, this one by Robin Eubanks(in "&", IIRC).
    What makes it even worse is Billy Kilson displacing **** all over the place.
  10. I prefer to think about it with a bar of 4/4 (or rather, 8/8) then a bar of 5/8, as opposed to 4/4 4/4 5/4.

    Anyway, I'm cool with playing the main groove of high noon. I can get through the head fine. It's comping in the solos that messes me around.

    Thanks for those clave exercises - I'm sitting at work tapping away.

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