#odd-time-signature fun

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  • @sci Jan 2018


    Write stuff in odd time! Then tag it!


    Even if you use multiple time signatures! (The tag is singular because that's how it was last year.)

    This is actually a pretty broad challenge since pretty much any genre or style can be adapted to odd time. But I always encourage it.

    In fact, I made a quick video tutorial for anyone who's not familiar with odd time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4AQR...

    so...do it! and have fun!

  • @bradbrubaker  Jan 2018

    Count me in.

  • @candle Jan 2018

    I always noddle around with odd time signatures. Count me in.

    See You In The Shadows…

  • @rickatfulcrum Jan 2018

    I bet at least one of the things I do this year will have some element of compound time in it. It never fails.

  • @w1n  Jan 2018

    Will most probably end up writing a couple of those tunes, I used to play in a band heavily inspired by prog rock, dub, Ethiopian, Indonesian and Balkan music. So those pesky odd time signatures have a tendency to sneak in.

  • @js6  Jan 2018

    Odd time signatures are the best way to 1) have fun in a song and 2) get frustrated during the writing and recording phase. Definitely in!

  • @fuzzy  Jan 2018

    Yeah, most of mine should be in multiple time signatures, sometimes more than one at the same time.

  • @sph  Jan 2018

    A wonderful example for joyfully groovy 4/4+9/8 tune is Nate Smith's "Skip Step":

  • @mkd  Jan 2018

    @bradbrubaker Always trickier to count in on an odd time sig... 🤨

  • @js6  Jan 2018

    @sph Thanks for sharing, that was great! Such talent and musicianship.

  • @jcameron Jan 2018

    @mkd A-one, a-two, er, a-one two three four five ...

    I reckon the odd 5/4 or 7/8 might creep in at some point this year.

  • @headfirstonly  Jan 2018

    There will always be at least one track in a weird time signature from me each FAWM. 5/4, 7/8, 11/8 have all cropped up in past years. I love odd time signatures, so if you use the tag I will *definitely* check you out.

    This year I want to try recording something that *sounds* like it's in a weird time signature, but isn't - like this track from my friends Markus Reuter and Tobias Reber, which is ostensibly 8/8 (but is played as alternating 6/8 and 2/8 bars). It's funky.

  • @mosley  Jan 2018

    I am definitely in on this one, a lot of my stuff is in odd time signatures 😀

  • @tootoobee  Jan 2018

    Love odd-time signatures but it's a real challenge for me, so I hope I can make something this Feb.

  • @tootoobee  Jan 2018

    PS: Here's a playlist of songs in Septuple Meter for inspiration https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

  • @bradbrubaker  Jan 2018

    @mkd, HA! Took me second.

  • @scottlake  Jan 2018

    Back in the day I would do open mics now and then. One cover that threw me for awhile was Mat Kearney’s “Nothing Left to Lose” which is a plain 4/4 song except for a couple places in the chorus where he throws in a 3/4 measure. Funny thing is it is really not noticeable until you try playing it. Singing along, nobody notices the stealth odd time signature measure in the middle of this rather otherwise plain song. I’ve often wanted to see if I could pull off something similarly stealthy with an odd time signature measure.

  • @mikeskliar  Jan 2018

    Wish I could play those odd time sig's more 'naturally' (as some of us know, the late fawmer paul hoopshank turrell could play them in his sleep).... One wonderfully 'organic' thing i'd love to do is to use odd time sigs the way John Lennon used them- in a way that never called attention to them, but they were there. Examples, -verse of 'all you need is love is in 7/4 (or alternating 4/4 and 3/4 if you prefer), "good morning good morning' is all over the place with different meters, as is 'across the universe', , bits of 5/4 are in ''don't let me down', Lucy in the sky alternates between 3/4 in the verses and 4/4 chorus, and of course lennon/mccartney's 'we can work it out' has a 4/4 verse and a bridge that goes into 3/4..... and, not lennon, but my two fave 5/4 pieces might be 'take five' and jethro tull's 'living in the past'..

  • @tsunamidaily Jan 2018

    @mikeskliar -- don't forget "she said she said." it is straight 8/8 until after "no, no, no, you're wrong" each time, then it hits several measures of 6/8 ("when i was a boy...").

  • @lvgd09 Jan 2018

    @sci Awesome tutorial video! I saved it (download) and really appreciate you teaching us the techniques. Very very cool.

    Side note: I still have the VST plugins installed that you gave us a couple years ago. You are excellent! I'll try using those in my attempt at some odd time signatures this year.

  • @headfirstonly  Jan 2018

    Best use of 5/4 I have ever seen was by Harry Connick Jr. One bar of it changes a square audience clapping on 1 and 3 into a hip audience clapping on 2 and 4. Watch the drummer literally punch the air in delight.

  • @headfirstonly  Jan 2018

    @tootoobee There are some great tracks in that list! The Rush track in your playlist is in 4/4, though - I'd switch it out with their track "Superconductor" which is 7/8 in the verses and 4/4 everywhere else. And I'd add Soundgarden's "Spoonman" which is 7/4 in the verses and 4/4 everywhere else.

  • @cairobraga Jan 2018

    I've been wanting to explore odd time sigs for years, so I'll try to do it more often this FAWM and will use and check out the tag, yes!

    I did a cover of Take Five recently, which was interesting, and made a draft in 7/5 for my failed NaSoAlMo 2017 attempt (which I might pick up to develop this FAWM).

  • @fuzzy  Jan 2018

    @mikeskliar; Syd Barrett did Lennon's weird time signature thing as well - a lot of his solo stuff jumps around all over the place, but it doesn't sound forced at all.

  • @fuzzy  Jan 2018

    @cairobraga; when I was in Jamaica last month I heard a 20 minute improv version of "Take Five" played by a steel band. It was the best interpretation of that song I've ever heard.

  • @cairobraga Jan 2018

    @fuzzy well spread me over your toast coz I'm officially jelly. no chance of a video link of this?

  • @fuzzy  Jan 2018

    No, @cairobraga, sorry. I didn't even think to record it on my phone. I sure wish I had.

  • @sph  Jan 2018

    Most of Snarky Puppy's "What about me" is in 4/4. Most puzzling is the unisono run that appears first time at 0:45-1:0. it sounds very "displaced" but is 4/4

  • @tootoobee  Jan 2018

    thanks @headfirstonly 😀 exchanged it. Glad Rush is still on the list, I listened to them a lot some ages ago...
    I have to admit my "wisdom" is Wikipedia based https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septupl...

  • @headfirstonly  Jan 2018

    @tootoobee No problem 😀 Here's another one for your septuple collection: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's "Robot Stop":

    If you want to *really* binge on odd time signature stuff, get a copy of King Crimson's 1981 album "Discipline." Aside from being one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded, it's a masterclass in playing in multiple time signatures - on the title track, drummer Bill Brudford is playing in 17/16 and none of the other guys is keeping the same beat as the others. A commenter explains "Belew and Fripp, respectively, move through the following sequence of pairs of time signatures: 5/8 and 5/8, 5/8 and 4/4, 5/8 and 9/8, 15/16 and 15/16, 15/16 and 14/16, 10/8 and 20/16, 15/16 and 15/16, 15/16 and 14/16, 12/16 and 12/16, 12/16 and 11/16, 15/16 and 15/16, 15/16 and 14/16." It'll make your head explode:

  • @scottlake  Jan 2018

    @headfirstonly do you think Harry Connick Jr. had a visual signal to the drummer or that this was something they had to do regularly?

  • @fuzzy  Jan 2018

    Or how about "Trout Mask Replica" by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band? Weird time signatures all over the place, usually played all at the same time. Try "Frownland"....

  • @shortdan  Jan 2018

    I challenge myself to do one every year (usually ends up being 5/4). Might try a 7/4 track this year as I’m not sure I’ve composed with that signature before. The actual music part I don’t normally find tricky - it’s fitting the vocal lines over the top afterwards. Always feels really unnatural at first and I find I keep coming in in the wrong places!

  • @headfirstonly  Jan 2018

    @scottlake There's no signal that I can see - Harry and his band are just very, VERY good 😀

  • @shortdan  Jan 2018

    Wrote something for FAWM in 11/8 a couple of years too - which has just sent me down a Google rabbit warren! Can’t believe I never noticed before that the Mario Kart 64 race results music is in 11/8!!


  • @fearlessflight2014  Jan 2018

    I wanna get a 7/4 Down this year.

  • @headfirstonly  Jan 2018

    And here's a classic in 7/4 from Wendy Carlos:

    ...and one in 7/8 from DEVO:

  • @fuzzy  Jan 2018

    Gosh, @headfirstonly, that Devo video is an absolute classic. I never get tired of that band.

  • @headfirstonly  Jan 2018

    @fuzzy Nor me. They were the first band I saw headline at the Hammersmith Odeon, back in 1978. Ticket cost me £4.50.

    Did you know Mark Mothersbaugh recently provided the score for Thor Ragnarok?

  • @mkd  Jan 2018

    I’m definitely up for trying one, probably a 7/8...

  • @fuzzy  Jan 2018

    Yeah, Mothersbaugh has done a bunch of film and TV scores. Good for him!

  • @ferry0123 Jan 2018

    Yeah, I'm in too. That 13/8 sig sounds like an awful lot of fun.

  • @gbg2016  Jan 2018

    yes! I'll be inspired by PJ Harvey (and maybe steal a loop from drummer Rob Ellis)

  • @sph  Jan 2018

    @gbg2016 Polly only needs one drumloop, not odd-time but odd nevertheless. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqttn...

  • @ampersandman  Jan 2018

    We have a CD for children. It's called "Zahlen bitte" by a singer called Robert Metcalf and it's a concept album about the numbers 1 through 12. Each song has the corresponding time signature, for example 5/4 for #5 or a 6/8+5/8 Zwiefacher (whatever the English word is) for #11. Tricky stuff, but still catchy enough for children to sing along. Unfortunately I liked it more than my daughter does, still wanted to mention it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70PSy...

  • @marvsmooth  Jan 2018

    I’ll definitely be using supposedly odd timings!

  • @corinnelucy  Jan 2018

    Wish I'd known there was a tag for this last year! I'm all over this. I've written in 5/4 quite a lot but never in 7/4 as far as I remember... I skip/add bars a fair amount too, learned it from @Woolford. 😁

  • @woolford  Jan 2018

    Haha @corinnelucy it was only ever accidental 😀 Hell of a time when I got in the studio and tried to lay down a guide track!

  • @nuitarie Feb 2018

    Alright, next entry will be a with an odd-time-signature ^^
    I might just mix 6/8 and 7/8 just for the fun of it. And to scratch my head in confusion while composing.

  • @fuzzy  Feb 2018

    Here's an odd time sig thing I just did; I think there are a few time signatures going on in there at the same time.

  • @unclephilly Feb 2018

    Just wrote my first song in 5/8. At least i think its 5/8 rather than 5/4, someone might want to correct me.


  • @saltbearer Feb 2018

    Time signatures are one thing, but how 'bout s'more #odd-measures ? 8)


  • @treble  Feb 2018


    Not sure this link will work, but of my favorites is Bulgarian Bulge by Milcho Leviev in 33/16.

  • @quillwraith  Feb 2018

    I have a few of these every year. This one's an instrumental called Sea of Ink, in 13/4: http://fawm.org/songs/80295/

  • @davidbreslin101  Feb 18

    My only irregular so far is this: http://fawm.org/songs/81324/ . It has a mid-tempo 10-beat rhythmic cycle, though it feels more like two bars of 3/4 plus one of 4/4 than "10/4".

    @unclephilly - Could be either- the choice of /4, /8 or /16 in a time signature only really matters when you're using staff notation, and even there it's a bit arbritrary! Personally, I plump for /8 if there's either a lot of beats in the bar or they're quite fast. But I've seen some very slow piano music written down in 3/8...

  • @jwhanberry  Feb 19

    Pretty happy with how this turned out. "Gonna Take Time". The title does not refer to the time signatures involved (7 and 4). http://fawm.org/songs/83288/

  • @erikleppen Feb 20

    Is 25/8 odd enough?
    http://fawm.org/songs/84006/ (it's not the best song though)
    In fact I didn't even intend it beforehand (just wanted 3/4), but I came 1/8 short after 4 bars, so I just added it in-between, and then decided to continue the pattern 😀

  • @davidbreslin101  Feb 24

    This thread prompted me to give 5/8 another chance! http://fawm.org/songs/85948/ And I finished an irregular 9/8 one I've been wrestling with. http://fawm.org/songs/85949/ Irregular 9 is fun- there's a few ways to group it, but they all sound like a steady 4 beat that's got the hiccups.

  • @jacobeverettwallace  Feb 26

    I did a collab with @scottlake and recorded in 5/4 for the first time ever. It was definitely an experience! Got some Fleet Foxes vibes to it: "Seeds or Kites" http://fawm.org/songs/86728/

  • @reklov Feb 26

    As I contributed to the Iambic pentameter Challenge my short song "Ritter Fips und der Schnaps" is in 5/4 too.

  • @bluesgut  Feb 26

    Wish I were reading the forums earlier. I've got 6 songs left. I'm sure a few will be in odd meter

  • @jcameron Feb 26

    Finally got round to recording one. My song "Woodlouse" http://fawm.org/songs/86600/ is in 5/4 throughout.

  • @jwhanberry  Mar 13

    Unrequited love in 7/8. The skirmish version of this was a mess so I didn't even post it here. I think it cleaned up well. Thanks to @jibbidy34 for the prompt. "Take The Bait".

  • @sph  Mar 13

    And here's my attempt at dance music in 7/4 time

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