How to write in odd time signatures?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Guamskyy, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. Guamskyy

    Guamskyy Hwat you call me?

    Messages:
    1,258
    Likes Received:
    202
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Location:
    Spring, Texas
    Any help would be awesome:hbang:
     
  2. Waelstrum

    Waelstrum All Fourths Advocate

    Messages:
    1,281
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    Writing in asymmetrical/unusual (I avoid saying odd because 3 is and odd number) time signatures is pretty much the same as writing in standard time signatures, if you can get the hang of playing in unusual time signatures. When you are so accustomed to unusual time signatures that when noodling away trying to come up with a melody and it's already in an unusual time signature, you will be ready...

    To get to that point listen to a lot of music that has these time signatures. I recommend Dream Theater, Symphony X, Planet X, Spastic Ink, Watchtower, Blotted Science (anything else with Ron Jarzombek), Behold the Arctopus, Protest the Hero, and other progressive and/or math bands. But don't just listen to them. Try and figure out what time signature they're playing in. Clap along, conduct, do what ever you are comfortable with to become familiar with the rhythms they are playing.
     
  3. C2Aye

    C2Aye has the groove.

    Messages:
    1,685
    Likes Received:
    625
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    This.

    5/8 and 7/8 have fairly strong grooves so you can get yourself in the pocket with those. 16th division time signatures are silly but you can write in them too.

    You can also combine different time signatures together too (like 5/8, 6/8 or 7/4, 6/4 etc)
     
  4. Guamskyy

    Guamskyy Hwat you call me?

    Messages:
    1,258
    Likes Received:
    202
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Location:
    Spring, Texas
    Doesn't Between The Buried And Me play mostly in 7/8 or something?
     
  5. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

    Messages:
    5,035
    Likes Received:
    846
    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    No sillier than quarter, whole, eighth, half, or thirty-second.
     
  6. Whiskey_Funeral

    Whiskey_Funeral SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    342
    Likes Received:
    95
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2010
    Location:
    Lexington, KY
    Not really sure that this relates to time signatures, but I had a friend in a band and when they would tour they would use the numbers in phone books of the hotels they stayed in to come up with riffs. Sounds like a pretty neat idea.
     
  7. Lasik124

    Lasik124 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,315
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Location:
    NJ
    Personally the easiest way for me, and this may not work for everybody. But! To start out lets say lets do 7/8.

    Get a piece of paper and write out 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Now choose some random accents, Mark under that number with the X.
    So lets now Place an X Below the Four,Six, and Seven.


    Now wherever you do the x's Try to accent them , a very easy place to start would say, lets grab the 7th fret on the A string and Chug on the E, Hit the 7th fret on the spots marked with an X, Count along, One, Two, Three, FOUR,five,SIX,SEV(I also found saying Sev is easier the seven, One syllable is easier to follow)

    Give it a shot, Get creative with it and go from there! Hope this helps!
     
  8. thesimo

    thesimo SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,306
    Likes Received:
    158
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2007
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    does anyone know what timings periphery use a lot? to get that groove going?
     
  9. Rashputin

    Rashputin I am Rash

    Messages:
    469
    Likes Received:
    196
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    A lot of stuff like Periphery or Meshuggah is actually straight 4/4. It's just a matter of creating a pattern "under" the straight 4/4 snare and hihat usually accented by guitars and bass drum. A polymeter- or polyrhythm if you will. That being said, they also use odd time signatures. It's this mix that makes them have their own thythmic "feel" or style if you will.
     
  10. Kurkkuviipale

    Kurkkuviipale Another Sinking ....

    Messages:
    3,996
    Likes Received:
    959
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    Periphery does pretty much 4/4, but they do alot of 7/8 (like in 'All New Material' verse part) and such. The point in djent-style infuenced music is that you create a riff that you could crop to few different bars that would go like 7/8 and 9/8, but then comes the drums, that beat the fuck out of cymbals hitting them straight 4 or 8. (And thus creating the groove to the music)

    Ok. Here's a good tip related to topic.

    1.Imagine a time signature like 7/8.

    2.Create a nice riff that doesn't sound like it's cut from some part, but is consistent and sounds good to you. This is easily done by not using too fast notes related to the tempo.

    3. Add in drums that beat in 4/4 to create a polyrhythmic groovy feel.

    4. ???

    5. Profit!

    For example, if you have Periphery song 'Juggernaut Clip 2' somewhere, listen to the ending riff. It goes to 15/16, but as the drums hit 4/4 it sound consistent and good.
     
  11. Valserp

    Valserp Only plays 1 string

    Messages:
    739
    Likes Received:
    197
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Bulgaria
    Accentuation is key. Most odd beats have some default patterns, that you can start practicing, until you feel comfortable with said signature.

    For instance - 7/8 goes like this

    1 2 1 2 1 2 3

    OR

    1 2 3 1 2 1 2

    Once you get the hang of those, you can do

    1 2 1 2 3 1 2

    Then move on to 9/8:

    1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 3

    1
    2 1 2 1 2 3 1 2

    1 2 1 2 3 1 2 1 2

    1 2 3 1 2 1 2 1 2

    These are all examples with the accent being on the first hit of a grouping.
    But once you get familiar with them - you can go crazy - and even drive your listeners crazy - with some odd decisions :)

    Here: the intro riff here goes like this:

    1 2 3 1 2 1 2

    1 2 1 2 3 1 2

    1 2 1 2 1 2 3

    1 2 3 1 2 1 2

    SoundClick artist: Valserp - Welcome and enjoy my musical blurbs! :)
     
  12. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    3,224
    Likes Received:
    306
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2010
    Location:
    Londonderry, N.Ireland, UK
    Personally I prefer to write something and if it is an unusual time signature then cool. You can really tell when you listen to bands which ones take the mathematical approach to make riff and melodies in unusual time signatures and which bands make music by inspiration that uses strange time signatures. The former ones are dry, emotionless wanking while the latter ones are music. To get there to the point of course to write in these signatures requires effort and you must work with these signatures to get accustomed to them. Western music is mostly based in 4/4 with maybe some 3/4 or best cases 6/4. You ears are most accustomed to these and they sound more natural. So you have to rewire your brain to understand the other time signatures before you start writing something. Some of the advices on the posts above are good.

    What you can do is put the metronome in a desired time signature and listen for a few minutes how the rhythm goes. Follow it with your hand or foot and try humming it also. Start with easy signatures like 3/4, 5/8, 7/8, 9/8, 6/4.

    One very good way to exercise but is a bit more difficult and requires some dedication is to get a rhythm sol fez book and go to town with that. There usually very good rhythm exercises in there. You put your metronome and try to read the rhythm of the exercise.

    One last thing that I found out while writing strange signature riffs is that most of the times some of the strange signature riffs can be simplified to easier time signatures with strange accentuations. If you change for example from a 5/8 to a 3/8 continuously then you can write two 4/4 meters with not so common accents. So like this you can use a 4/4 meter that sounds like a strange time signature but is actually a 4/4.
     
  13. Kurkkuviipale

    Kurkkuviipale Another Sinking ....

    Messages:
    3,996
    Likes Received:
    959
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    Who are you to define music? Who are you to define what is emotionless? Who on earth are you to define what is made by inspiration or even what is inspiration?

    Indeed.

    No one.

    Just that someone has a different point of view in how to write music doesn't mean he is 'doing it wrong'. And by 'doing it wrong' (in your opinion wrong, for example taking a mathematical approach on writing music) how can you say they couldn't be doing it from heart, but emotionless and such.
     
  14. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

    Messages:
    5,035
    Likes Received:
    846
    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    [​IMG]



    OP, I don't know if this will help you out, but I recently made a post on the other forum addressing the difference between additive and divisive meters. It explains the sort of mindset when you're putting these things together.

    A Lesson On 5/4 Time, Jazz Music, and Irony - Page 3
     
  15. PeteyG

    PeteyG Big Bear

    Messages:
    944
    Likes Received:
    468
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Location:
    Shropshire, England.
    A lot of people who write music which ends up going through odd meters actually just do a very simple thing.

    Set up a click or a metronome, and just jam to it, literally just play, and any ideas which you think are cool or you feel yourself returning to and enjoying, keep playing them until they are ingrained in your memory.

    When you do this, not everything will be in 4/4, but everything will be relative to the pulse, and so will most likely groove and flow. Also doing this stops you from over-thinking what you are doing, you'll find that it's when you think too much about the music you're writing that you will be the least satisfied with it.

    As the guy said a few posts above (albeit in an elitist manner which I disagree with) you should write first and work out the time signatures later. For instance with my band Red Seas Fire, we happen to write music which goes through a lot of time changes, but it does so because that's been the flow of consciousness when we've written it. We don't rule out the use of simple time and aim only for compound time, in fact if we were to write a track that was all 4/4 and there was not a trace of metric modulation or anything like that, but we liked it enough, it would become a released song by us.
     
  16. Rashputin

    Rashputin I am Rash

    Messages:
    469
    Likes Received:
    196
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    That is good advice. You guys have a lot of cool riffs. I've been doing this metronome thing in my daw with the click track or midi drums. Often I'll map out some straight 4/4 beat or just start the click and then play around with rhythmic ideas for riffs. 99% of the time I come up with some generic crappy stuff, but 1% I strike gold. I'll move some bass drum hits around, move the 1 around or something, and suddenly I have this strange time signature. I don't know theory worth #"ยค# so I can't even say in words what time signature I'm playing, but usually it started out as 4/4 at least. Many riffs will still actually be in 4/4 with another pattern going at the same time. My band mates hate when i bring in those riffs to practice though, because they can be hard to wrap your head around initially, but usually they sound a bit more interesting and they are just as easy to play once you know the riff.

    The other guitar player in my band (Colossus) also write some odd riffs some times, and when he's trying to show those to me, I'm like WTF dude!!! I DON'T GET IT!!! So it runs both ways, but thats how we write songs. The hard way.
     

Share This Page