What's the diff between 7/4 and 7/8 time signature?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by MikeBarber, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. Perhaps this is a silly and ignorant question, but what is the difference between 7/4 and 7/8 other than which note value gets one beat.

    Is there really a difference? Or are they pretty much the same thing other than how they are written on the page?

    From a composers point of view, wouldn't the decission between writting a piece in 7/4 or 7/8 simply be a matter of choice regarding preference of style (as in, again, which note gets the beat)?
  2. The big difference is the metrum, the accents the measure gets. This is different in 7/8.
    This, and the tempo difference, is for example the reason why you get 3/4 & 6/8 blues rhythms. (AFAIK)
    Pls correct me if im wrong.
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It does have to do with phrasing, but mostly melodic phrasing. If you are looking at a bunch of tied eighth notes, quarter notes etc etc, then maybe 7/8 would make more sense written as 7/4. Likewise, if you've got a 7/4 tune written and there's all kinds of phrasing that's broken and going across the bar line and on weak beats and written highly syncopated, maybe it would make more sense (ie easier to read) if it were written with the 8th note as the note that gets 1 beat in the measure, that is in 7/8.
  4. OK, that's what I thought. I wrote a piece of mine out in 7/8 thinking it would make more sense... but I thought it looked more difficult to read than it needed to be and wrote it out in 7/4 and thought it looked easier to read.

    The melody is rather simple (sax players are going to have a hard enough time counting to 7 as it is :D ), but the bass/rhythm is indeed highly syncopated. I, personally, feel more comfortable dealing with quarter and eighth-notes than with eighth- and sixteenth-notes, so I kept it at 7/4... I was wondering if this is perfectly acceptable, or if I was commiting some kind of faux-pas. ;-)
  5. stagger lee

    stagger lee

    Jul 11, 2004
    If you're wanting other people to read and play it then you should go for whichever one is easier to read, so long as it doesn't change the feel of the bar. There's no point in getting a sax player more confused than usual.
  6. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Yup, they're pretty confused usually :D

    I would be too if I could play 32nd notes on Cherokee......for 74 choruses
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    LEXI - mostly they seem to be confused about when to STOP...

    you know, sort of " I didn't play anything that made any sense on the first 300 chrouses so I should take at least one more, yeah that's it."
  8. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Yeah, classic.

    Shorter GOOD solos to me, are the hardest to master.
  9. Funny how the saxes, brass, piano and guitar will take soo many choruses to solo, but when it comes to the bass I get glares and messages to finished up if I take more than two!

  10. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Lay out during their next 28 choruses, so they can go a-la Trane..... :D
  11. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Ειναι και για μενα!
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    7/4 - 7/8:

    Gotta get the same denominator first, remember?

    14/8 - 7/8 = 7/8

    The difference is 7/8, not 4!
  13. You must be a drummer. :D
  14. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Oo...that was rough!
  15. Hi Everybody...

    I don't play tunes in those different meters that much, but I'll share my experince anyway...

    When I play a tune written in 7/8, I usually play something that reminds of a 7/8-clave. Brad Mahldau does it on "Introducing Brad Mehldau", I'm not shure but I think is track 1, "It might as well be spring"... They seem to have some kind of a clave that they play around all the time.

    Well, then to the 7/4 section... :)

    I would say that 7/4 somewhat more relaxed to play than 7/8, it might be because of the longer measures... :eyebrow: (pls correct me if I'm wrong!!)
    Then again that depends on what tempo you're playing of course. :)

    The first track on Brian Blade Fellowship "Perceptual" is in 7/4, that gives you something to compare with... (If you have both cd's that is.)

    I know I'm not being very clear, but at least I gave it a shot! ;)

    Mr. Engberg, Denmark...
  16. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    i played a piece once written in 7 1/2 / 8...no joke.
  17. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I write in odd meters quite a bit. For me, 7/8 is like 6/8, and would have two main pulses per measure -- ONE two three ONE two three four -- and is probably a pretty quick 3+4 or 4+3. 7/4 is like 4/4 has seven pulses per measure -- ONE two three four five six seven -- and could divided any old way. So choosing would be a question of how I "heard" the count. 14/8, which I've never used I don't think, I would think of as a bossa-like 3+3+2+3+3 or somesuch, like an extension of 11/8. But the 8 denominator usually implies groupings of 3 in some way.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Funny this came up again - as a few days ago I saw the documentary about the making of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album again -and Dave Gilmour definitely says that "Money" is in 7/8 time - whereas it feels like 7/4 to me for all the reasons discussed here...:confused: