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Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:16 am UTC
by WHSTech
What are your favorite (or most hated) time signature to play or listen too?

Listening: I like 7/4 and 5/4 a lot, but 7/4 is very hard to count and play.
Playing: 9/8 and 5/4 are my favorites, 4/4 gets becomes really boring after a while

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:46 am UTC
by ChocloManx
I like them all, really, they all have their place, but 10 and 7 and 13 are somewhat more fun to play for me, on occasion.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:47 am UTC
by uncivlengr
Good topic!

I really like complex signatures - 5/4, 7/4, and 9/4 (where 9/8 isn't just a compound triple), except when it's "Take Five" and "Mission Impossible"-style 5/4 (ie, 3 plus 2), which is the boring kind of 5/4. "15 step" by Radiohead is a good example of a good 5/4 song, and "Vicarious" by Tool.

I like them most when the song really fits into that time signature, ie, it doesn't feel like the progression was taken out of some standard time and stuck into a complex one for the sake of using a complex time signature. One example of this is Bruce Hornsby's "Tango King" (kinda obscure, but there's a sample here), where it feels like he added a beat to make it 9/4 when it would have functioned perfectly in 4/4 (I like the song anyway, incidentally).

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:09 am UTC
by Midnight
12/8 but I like 3/4 a lot too.

I can play in any time signature, really. and if a song pulls off a complex signature without sounding like it's trying really hard, then i'm alright with it. usually the more exotic times that dream theater employ make me go "wow alirhgt, we get it, y'all know how 15/8+19/16 work. you went to Berklee."

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:19 am UTC
by phlip
To echo others, I'm a fan or 5/4 and 7/4... 7/4 in particular seems to make a song feel a bit more frantic, like it's in such a rush each bar is starting a bit before it's supposed to... or is that just me? Particularly with things like this that already have a pretty action-ey feel to them. 5/4 on the other hand feels pretty sedate, but that could easily be because most of the 5/4 songs I've heard are either Take Five or based on it, and that's a pretty sedate song (and the Mission Impossible theme isn't exactly sedate... it has more of the ahead-of-itself feel I was talking about with 7/8, as though it was supposed to be a 6/8 song but each bar is starting too early).

I also love a good song in 4/4 where the rhythm is broken up either 3-3-2 or 3-3-3-3-4. I don't know why, but those particular patterns almost always ends up with a "good song" feel from me.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:48 am UTC
by Bruenor
I played a piece once many years ago in an orchestra, the name escapes me. The time signature was 9/8, but almost every bar was split into different groupings, with none of them 3+3+3. I don't think we ever played it at a concert, mostly because the conduct just hated trying to conduct it.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:12 pm UTC
by SirMustapha
Depends on who's playing it!

When it comes to NEU! or early Stereolab, for example, it's hard to think of anything other than 4/4.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:46 pm UTC
by DorkRawk
There's a great Thrice song (Trust) that for most of it could probably be described as being in 11/4, but alternates between 5 and 6 beat phrases. It's a pretty cool use of interesting timing without sounding too prog or experimental.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:08 pm UTC
by SiriusBeatz
Personally I like the type of 9/8 that features heavily in Blue Rondo a la Turk, by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Typically, 9/8 is divided as 3+3+3/8, but this song divides it as 2+2+2+3/8 for three successive measures and then 3+3+3/8 for the last measure. Apparently, 2+2+2+3/8 is a fairly common deal in Turkish music, or something. All I know is that it's really cool.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:51 pm UTC
by meatyochre
Don't have a favorite time signature per se. It's not about the numbers, it's about how they are used. I like songs that meld triplets with doublets, or alternate between the two. And songs that are hard to count fascinate me. I can't think of one off the top of my head, but sometimes I'll hear a song on the radio and I can't classify the time sig right away (because it alternates or changes frequently), so it keeps me listening interestedly.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:22 pm UTC
by achan1058
Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Sacrificial Dance, enough said. (the time signature changes just about every bar)

Aside from that, a good old 4/4 time is also very welcome.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:19 am UTC
by LeagueOfMorons
A lot of love for 5/4 and 7/4 here - I dig those ones too. Anything asymmetrical, really; 9/4 or 9/8 are super cool too.

I also love a good solid 6/8 groove. Like in A Perfect Circle's Judith. A lot of my favorite songs tend to have that kind of feel. Divisions of 3 and 6 seem to come naturally when I'm playing guitar or bass - more so than 4/4. A groove that I really enjoy, and that I kinda wish was more common, is a 3/4 groove with the snare/accent-note on beat 3. It provides a great sort of push towards the next downbeat. Know what I mean? I'm trying to think of a good example . . . and I'm drawing a blank, for some reason.

Anyway, I used to be of the opinion that "the more meter changes and wacky signatures, the cooler it is." Bands like Dream Theater do that really well, and in their defense, it's not like it's exactly easy. But lately I've been learning that holding down a great, consistent groove in something as simple as 4/4 (or 6/8, of course) can be just as challenging as playing in every meter under the sun.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:15 pm UTC
by Jar'O'Jam
Anything which is not straight-forward 4/4 gets me on, but here's a great example in 17/8 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUMGSr3b67g

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:04 am UTC
by WHSTech
My school's Jazz Band (which I'm a part of) is probably going to be playing an arrangement of the "First Circle" by Pat Metheny next year. It's in 22/8 (12/8+10/8). Probably one of the harder things to play, although this year we had a piece in 7/4 where the count structure changed every other measure.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:27 pm UTC
by Sasquatch11235
My high school marching band did songs in 9/8 (2-2-2-3) and 7/8 (2-2-3) which were a lot of fun.

Also, I once played a song with a brass quintet which was 63/84, well actually it was 6/8 and 3/4, but I thought it was funny since it reduced to the same thing anyway.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:37 pm UTC
by uncivlengr
Sasquatch11235 wrote:My high school marching band did songs in 9/8 (2-2-2-3) and 7/8 (2-2-3) which were a lot of fun.
They weren't marches, though, were they? Or were they titled, "How to make your band members trip over their feet"?

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:09 am UTC
by ConMan
uncivlengr wrote:
Sasquatch11235 wrote:My high school marching band did songs in 9/8 (2-2-2-3) and 7/8 (2-2-3) which were a lot of fun.
They weren't marches, though, were they? Or were they titled, "How to make your band members trip over their feet"?

That was covered a bit in the discussion thread for strip #389, and apparently the answer is "it can be done".

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:04 am UTC
by meatyochre
When I was in high school marching band, we did a song that had a few sections in 7/8. It's a bit stressful at first, but really you just have to not overthink it and step to the beat. It's on par with marching to something in 3/4 (which is mostly stressful because you're used to stepping with the left at the start of every measure, and in 3/4 or 7/8 time you alternate left and right feet at the start of each measure).

So normal 4/4 marching is LEFT right left right LEFT right left right
3/4 is LEFT right left RIGHT left right (tough for newbies but manageable)
7/8 is slightly more complex but again, manageable as LEFT bum right bum left bum bum RIGHT bum left bum right bum bum

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:19 am UTC
by WHSTech
My school's marching band is actually doing a piece where you have an odd number of odd time signatured measures (4/4, 3/4, then repeat) and the second half of the first movement is in 9/8.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:51 pm UTC
by KestrelLowing
For "normal" time signatures, I really enjoy 6/8. I don't mind 12/8, but I feel like they should have just separated it into 6/8

My favorite are songs that change in appropriate places. I'm really mad because I can't think of the name piece we played in high school. (And going dum dum dum de da dum dum doesn't really help!) It was pretty standard, if somewhat difficult, literature. The seperation was (3-3-2-2) for much of the song, but I don't remember what the actual time signature was, or if it just changed every measure.

Incantation and Dance was another of my favorite, even if it's mostly in 4/4, it uses a lot of hemiola and does have random bars of different times that sounds really good. Plus, being allowed to basically blat the melody on my trombone in the beginning part was a lot of fun too, as was actually a little difficult.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:20 am UTC
by Patashu
What is it called when a song is 4/4, but grouped into groups of five measures, not four? i.e. this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0WG81V0hKE Once the beat comes in, count measures, and it'll be pretty obvious.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:59 pm UTC
by 123
I like 4/4 because it's basically all I can play. 3/4 is doable, but I find it harder. Anything faster of slower than that, is hard for me, to the point where I don't even try to play.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:50 am UTC
by Midnight
123 wrote:I like 4/4 because it's basically all I can play. 3/4 is doable, but I find it harder. Anything faster of slower than that, is hard for me, to the point where I don't even try to play.

faster? slower? Tempo has nothing to do with time signatures.

Patasha wrote:What is it called when a song is 4/4, but grouped into groups of five measures, not four? i.e. this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0WG81V0hKE Once the beat comes in, count measures, and it'll be pretty obvious.

Well... I could be wrong, but I figure it's either called "really slow 5/4 with a 16th note feel" so it's like 1-e-&-a-2-e-&-a but really slow so it SEEMS to be 4/4.

or way more likely: It's called 4/4, but grouped into 5 measures.

cause like, my band has a songthat's in 3/4 but the verse is grouped in 7 measures (A/G/C/F/F/F/F). I suppose it could be called really slow 7/4 with a ton of triplets. but that seems like a stupid way to notate it, cause then the chorus isn't in hypothetical-7; it's grouped in 4 like normal.
Actually that song would probably be considered to be in 6/8 but that doesn't play nice with the 21-beat verses.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:24 am UTC
by Durinthal
Patashu wrote:What is it called when a song is 4/4, but grouped into groups of five measures, not four? i.e. this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0WG81V0hKE Once the beat comes in, count measures, and it'll be pretty obvious.

You're talking about the length of phrases. There's not really any special terminology, that particular song just has five-measure phrases instead of the standard of four.

I don't know if I have a favorite time signature, but as far as asymmetric meters go I like 7/8. I also feel obliged to mention 'Serenade - For Wind Band' by Derek Bourgeois, as it's a fun piece.

Edit:
Midnight wrote:cause like, my band has a songthat's in 3/4 but the verse is grouped in 7 measures (A/G/C/F/F/F/F). I suppose it could be called really slow 7/4 with a ton of triplets. but that seems like a stupid way to notate it, cause then the chorus isn't in hypothetical-7; it's grouped in 4 like normal.
Actually that song would probably be considered to be in 6/8 but that doesn't play nice with the 21-beat verses.
Eh, how you actually group it is all relative. Could just be waltz-tempo 3/4, or the verses could be 9/8 + 6/8 + 6/8; it's more up to the composer than anything.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:43 am UTC
by Sheikh al-Majaneen
I've found myself getting into 9/8 + 8/8 + 7/8 before.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:49 am UTC
by Jar'O'Jam
Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:I've found myself getting into 9/8 + 8/8 + 7/8 before.

Tool - Lateralus being a great example ?

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:27 am UTC
by Sheikh al-Majaneen
Jar'O'Jam wrote:
Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:I've found myself getting into 9/8 + 8/8 + 7/8 before.

Tool - Lateralus being a great example ?

The only example I can think of. And contrary to the band's expectations, I find it an easy song to mosh to.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:16 pm UTC
by olubunmi
I don't care much really, but there are some unusual ones I played once which I really liked. 7/8 and 4/2 for instance.

I only don't like it when there isn't a signature at all...

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:07 pm UTC
by \'|-
I wrote a song in 17/4 once, broken as 5 5 7. 7/4 is a lot of fun to play in, as is 5/4. Matt Savage, (A rather young jazz pianist) has a song in 33/8, which he counts like that and his drummer counts as 7/4 7/4 5/8.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:20 am UTC
by cjmcjmcjmcjm
I'm a big fan of 21/8, myself.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 2:01 am UTC
by Midnight
olubunmi wrote:I don't care much really, but there are some unusual ones I played once which I really liked. 7/8 and 4/2 for instance.

I only don't like it when there isn't a signature at all...

oh god once I was playing this song with a guitarist friend of mine and he did the opening part of the song in free-time like that, and there was no real beat to follow, and he nodded at me to come in, thinking that I would set the tempo--but I didn't know the gosh darned tempo, cause I thought he might set it--and it ended with me just doing little light figures over his free-time playing.
nightmare. fuck free time.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:46 am UTC
by Eastwinn
7/8 is my favorite. Putting a climatic part of a song is 7/8 just makes my stomach hurt in a good way.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:32 am UTC
by ChocloManx
What the hell, free time is totally cool.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:33 am UTC
by Midnight
ChocloManx wrote:What the hell, free time is totally cool.

It can be. As a solo. But try and play changes over someone playing in freetime. Ssss.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:07 am UTC
by kaniman2
I usually write music in 4/4 or 6/8, but I don't really pay attention to time signatures. Polyrhythms are cool.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:49 am UTC
by cjmcjmcjmcjm
kaniman2 wrote:Polyrhythms are cool.

That's why you like to write in 6/8. It can double as 3/4.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:39 pm UTC
by Digitbig
I've always found common time to be the easiest to work with, but 6/8 seems to lend itself nicely to ballads (Only Hope, Nothing Else Matters, Remembering Sunday, et cetera).

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:16 am UTC
by Seanigator
kaniman2 wrote:Polyrhythms are cool.

Yeah I agree http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBujZr20O6M .
Caribou also plays some pretty bitchin' polyrhythm dance music.

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:36 am UTC
by Midnight
Seanigator wrote:
kaniman2 wrote:Polyrhythms are cool.

Yeah I agree http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBujZr20O6M .
Caribou also plays some pretty bitchin' polyrhythm dance music.

MESHUGGAH

Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Posted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:55 am UTC
by LeagueOfMorons
Seanigator wrote:
kaniman2 wrote:Polyrhythms are cool.

Yeah I agree http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBujZr20O6M .
Caribou also plays some pretty bitchin' polyrhythm dance music.


Wow, I really liked that. I'll have to look up some more music by those guys. Impressive.

Oh, and LOL @ Midnight's response. I do love me some Meshuggah, don't get me wrong. Just struck me as funny, I guess.