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Writing Grooves in Wierd time Signatures

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Afrokid, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Afrokid


    Nov 24, 2006
    What are some tips on writing bass grooves in wierd time signatures. It seems everything i write tends to be 4/4 or some other standard time signature, and im trying to vary it up a little bit.
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Listen to what these "weird time signatures" sound like.

    You probably keep writing stuff in familiar signatures because you are, uh, most familiar with these and they feel natural to you.

    So listen to some odd time stuff or, if your metronome's able to do that, set your metronome to some odd time and just listen to how this time sig feels. Maybe you can clap your hands to it our even play along simple stuff.
  3. Jerose


    Nov 28, 2005
    Syracuse, NY
    Yeah I agree with Nashrakh. My advice would be to listen to a lot of stuff that's in weird time signatures and get used to feeling it. The easiest ones to find are usually 6/8, 9/8, 5/4 and 7/8. Once you can feel what they sound like and can play in them decently, then your brain will automatically start coming up with stuff that fits.

    Either that or come up with a cool 4/4 line and add or subtract a beat and see where it lands you. Sometimes its a crapshoot whether it sounds really cool or just really wrong. :p
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Get your ear in another place. Listen to a lot of 'World Music'. Listen to classical (sure, not a lot in odd time sigs, but a different sound) Keep expanding the horizons.
  5. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Like Trilok told me: "do the math!"

    Most of our odd meters are just combinations of 2 and 3.

    5= 3+2 or 2+3
    7= 3+2+2, 2+3+2, or 2+2+3


    If you have a sequencer or drum machine, just try putting these in as accents in a loop and start playing simple rhythms on a root. In garage band you can just set your loop points to the number of beats you want. Not always pretty, but it works.

    Greek music is where it's at for this stuff, also Zappa (Joe's Garage,) even Dave Brubeck.
  6. -Sam-


    Oct 5, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    often an easier way to get you head around the 2+3=5 thing. is tho think of times in Longs and Shorts, for eg. 5 is Long (3) Short (2) Long (3). and then you can double that so 5/4 can become 10/8 which can be Long Long Short Short, or Long Short Long Short, or any combination. Everytime signature can be divided up like this and can still be thought of simply. This is how a lot of "folk" or tradition/gypsy music is thought of.
  7. -Sam-


    Oct 5, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Also, learn traditional dances. The greeks are great as are the hungarians.
  8. TL5


    Jun 27, 2005
    You could utilize Konokol counting to create your basic rhythm.
    provided you know the groove in advance this can really help creating the line and staying in the odd meter.
  9. ya- thats pretty much the bottom line there.

    however- you need to hear odd stuff (tool/rush/a million others)- play that- and then youll slowly start to feel normal playing abnormal time signatures.

    as has been said- 5 and 7 are fairly natural feeling- as far as the odd stuff goes. and 12 is just 3 4s or 4 3s- or a 5 and a 7 and,........... ya- many possibilities- keep at it.
  10. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Depends on what you define as "classical".

  11. Sir Mudkip

    Sir Mudkip

    Feb 27, 2009
    As a recommendation- Do a bit of study on Anton Reicha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Reicha). Anton Reicha was a classical (romantic era) composer who experimented writing his pieces in odd time signatures. He wrote some pieces with a different time signatures for each bar. I know he didn't write the style you probably want to write in, but he may give you some interesting inspiration.
  12. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    This is great advice. Listen to this guy. Subdivide, and then you want to put the accents on the ones.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes a sequencer or programme or sophisticated drum machine can be helpful...?

    I remember being a given a groove in 15/4 and I got my microcomposer to do it by programming 5 bars of 3/4 and sort of tying across the barlines....:p
  14. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think you need to feel the rhythm in that time signature in order to write something for said time signature.
  15. Zombbg4


    Jul 15, 2008
    Something that you should consider is to not write somthing in an odd time for the sake of it being in an odd time signature. One of the things Victor does well (among others) is create grooving lines that don't sound totally weird, example: if your unmusical parent,friend ect...doesn't notice the strange time, you've done a good job.

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