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Thread: Time signatures

  1. #1
    Lv. 16 Metal-Mage brianhitscar's Avatar
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    Time signatures

    I know how to count basic time signatures...
    like 4/4 is counted 1-2-3-4 or "boom tat boom tat"
    3/4 is 1-2-3 or "boom tat tat"
    6/8 is 1-2-3-4-5-6 os "boom tat tat boom tat tat"
    Anyways...
    How would you count for say 5/4 or (and yes, I'm embarassed to ask...) 12/8 . I mean, you don't see those kinds of signatures all the time, but they seem common enough for me to spend time wondering about them. Basically I'm just trying to create pretty basic drum grooves to play over, and I want to start working with different timing. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Registered User moon shadow's Avatar
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    I highly recommend a book called "Even In the Odds" by Ralph Humphrey. There are plenty of exercises on many different time signatures. Even though it is written for drummers, you can very easily apply the exercises to other instruments.

  3. #3
    Registered User moon shadow's Avatar
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    5/4 is counted:1-2-3-1-2 or 1-2-1-2-3. Each count has a different feel. The "Even In the Odds" book doesn't say how to count 12/8, but there are plenty of exercises on it. Hope this helps you.

  4. #4
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    Most of the time 12/8 is 4/4 played in triplets. 1-trip-let 2-trip-let 3-trip-let 4-trip-let
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
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  5. #5
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    To be honest, it's all about how you want to make it feel.

    You can break down the meter into 2 or 3 in any way you choose, like moon shadow said.

    like, 7/8 could be 1-2-3-4-1-2-3 or 1-2-3-1-2-3-4, etc. etc.

    This may or may not be a good way to start, but try playing a 4/4 simple beat, and add one at the end for 5/4.
    Or try playing a simple 6/ 8 beat but cut one beat off early and reset. Get used to it changing abruptly and try new things.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blastrid
    To be honest, it's all about how you want to make it feel.

    You can break down the meter into 2 or 3 in any way you choose, like moon shadow said.

    like, 7/8 could be 1-2-3-4-1-2-3 or 1-2-3-1-2-3-4, etc. etc.

    This may or may not be a good way to start, but try playing a 4/4 simple beat, and add one at the end for 5/4.
    Or try playing a simple 6/ 8 beat but cut one beat off early and reset. Get used to it changing abruptly and try new things.
    It doesn't necessarily have to sound 'abrupt'. But initially, it feels like that. There are a few cracking pieces in 5/4 for example which you'd never guess, cause it sounds so natural.
    Radiohead - Morning Bell
    Dave Brubeck - Take Five
    The Mission Impossible Theme (the orginal, not the new mainstream version).

    Just keep at it and in the end it'll feel natural.
    I was in the same position not long ago, now 5/4 and 7/4 etc. seem to come as easy as 4/4.

  7. #7
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    Oh yeah. An easy way to do it is to break it down to use sounds as beats.
    For example.

    1 beat - say 'ta'

    2 beats- say 'ta ka'

    3 beats- say 'ta ka da'

    4 beats- say 'ta ka di mi'

    Now, to get a beat of 5/4, you'll say, 'ta ka da ta ka'

    7/4 could be 'ta ka di mi ta ka da'


    There are other ways to break it down e.g.
    7=3+4
    7=4+3
    7=2+2+3
    But using these sounds to count along, it become much easier, i find.
    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Pasty; 10-27-2004 at 05:43 PM.

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