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CJJ*
06-06-2006, 09:51 AM
Simple enough; can anyone cite popular songs/tunes in a time signature other than the ubiquitous 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 etc. beat? "Popular" is a key term here; Gustav Holtz's "Mars" is in 5/4 time, but I doubt most here would recognize it.

The ones I've discovered:

Dave Brubeck "Take Five" (5/4)
Lalo Schifrin "'Mission: Impossible' Theme" (5/4)
Led Zeppelin "Four Sticks" (5/4; perhaps not really that 'popular'...)
Pink Floyd "Money" (7/8; never realized until I mentioned this thread to a friend and "counted out" the song's opening phrase)

Any others?

Richard Pearse
06-06-2006, 10:09 AM
Pink Floyd's "Mother" is a little notable in that most of the verse is 4/4, the chorus is 6/8 (or 3/4 depending on who's transcribed the music), and there is one bar in each line of the verse that is 5/4.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-06-2006, 10:15 AM
Dave Brubeck "Take Five" (5/4)
Not quite as well known as "Take Five," but I just heard Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk" (9/8) in a coffee shop the other day.

Jethro Tull "Living in the Past" (5/4)
Mike Oldfield "Tubular Bells" (theme from The Exorcist) (30-beat cycle divided 7+7+7+9/8)

Eonwe
06-06-2006, 10:18 AM
I've always felt that Rush were the kings of writing in 7/8(4) or other odd signatures and making it sound totally normal. Limelight is a great example.

wolf_meister
06-06-2006, 10:18 AM
The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out", is written mostly in 4/4 time except for the parts that go "fussing and fighting my friend" and "ask you once again" which change to 3/4 time. It also ends in 3/4 time. Granted 3/4 and 4/4 time aren't that uncommon but it's kind of rare to have both in one song.

Now that I think of it, 3/4 time is pretty rare in rock music. Some that come to mind are:
"Manic Depression" Jimi Hendrix
"Go Now" Moody Blues
"How Can I Be Sure" by the Rascals

There aren't that many others are there? (Then again, I'm thinking with a 1960's mentality).

don't ask
06-06-2006, 10:19 AM
The Pretenders used several odd time signatures in their early stuff at least. Tattooed Love Boys was in 15/16 time.

Labdad
06-06-2006, 10:25 AM
The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out", is written mostly in 4/4 time except for the parts that go "fussing and fighting my friend" and "ask you once again" which change to 3/4 time. It also ends in 3/4 time. Granted 3/4 and 4/4 time aren't that uncommon but it's kind of rare to have both in one song.

Now that I think of it, 3/4 time is pretty rare in rock music. Some that come to mind are:
"Manic Depression" Jimi Hendrix
"Go Now" Moody Blues
"How Can I Be Sure" by the Rascals

There aren't that many others are there? (Then again, I'm thinking with a 1960's mentality).

"Loan Me a Dime" by Boz Scaggs starts out in 3/4 time, and finishes (with a blistering Duane Allman guitar solo!) in 4/4/ time.

silenus
06-06-2006, 10:25 AM
Not quite as well known as "Take Five," but I just heard Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk" (9/8) in a coffee shop the other day.

Even better is "Unsquare Dance" which is in 7/4 time.

Moe
06-06-2006, 10:30 AM
Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill is in 7.

Ximenean
06-06-2006, 10:42 AM
And post-Gabriel Genesis's "Turn it on Again" is 13/4 in places.

RealityChuck
06-06-2006, 10:43 AM
Frank Zappa liked changing time signatures all the time. His "Dancin' Fool" -- which reached #45, his second most successful single -- keeps changing so that, though ostensibly a dance song, it is impossible to dance to.

thirdname
06-06-2006, 10:49 AM
"Hey Ya" by Outkast is 6+8.

Tool does some odd time, though not quite as much as Rush. Rush does odd time signatures, and they change the time frequently and add in extra beats. Freewill is 6+7+6+8 in during the verses. Most of their songs that I can think of have odd time at some point. Primus uses some odd time signatures, inlcuding their song Eleven which is in 11/8, but I don't think any of their hits are odd. I think System of a Down may have an odd-time hit or two but I'm not sure.

As a slight digresssion, are there many pop songs that have polyrythyms any more odd than 3 against 4? I think Paul Simon was known for that but I didn't hear it myself and I can't think of any others except maybe some rappers.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-06-2006, 10:53 AM
The Grateful Dead's "Estimated Prophet" is in 7/4.

Ludovic
06-06-2006, 11:43 AM
"Hashpipe" by Weezer has an unusual signature of some sort. Counting out the beats it seems to be in 4/4, but I always always want to hum the hook in 15/16: it's so driving that I always assume it's missing the last note. Would probably sound better that way (unless it really is 15/16: I can't tell.)

Small Clanger
06-06-2006, 11:46 AM
Gustav Holtz's "Mars" is in 5/4 time, but I doubt most here would recognize it.You really think so? It's certainly well known over here.


I think Golden Brown by The Stranglers was in something odd but I can't find anything to back me up.


I know it's not exactly a pop tune but Discipline by King Crimson probably takes the biscuit. I've never seen it written down but at times there are simultaneous guitar parts in 15 and 14, I don't know how that would be notated. Anyone ever seen a score for this? (Tab does not count).

picker
06-06-2006, 11:47 AM
Sweet Pain by Blues Traveler is in 7/4.

DooWahDiddy
06-06-2006, 12:54 PM
The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out", is written mostly in 4/4 time except for the parts that go "fussing and fighting my friend" and "ask you once again" which change to 3/4 time. It also ends in 3/4 time. Granted 3/4 and 4/4 time aren't that uncommon but it's kind of rare to have both in one song.



I can see why you might think that because of the quarter note triplets going on there, but the song stays in 4/4 throughout.

In the Eagles' "Take it Easy", in measure number 8, it goes into 9/8 for just that one measure. Odd, but it works!

LiveOnAPlane
06-06-2006, 04:51 PM
I have some Polynesian music that is in....well, I don't KNOW what time it is in, I can't even identify the (whatever-you-call-it) tonal scale.

But it is good music.

Kilvert's Pagan
06-06-2006, 07:12 PM
And post-Gabriel Genesis's "Turn it on Again" is 13/4 in places.And peri-Gabriel Genesis had examples of this as well... Supper's Ready from Foxtrot has a portion named Apocalype in 9/8/ It's divided into 3+2+4 at that. The first post-Gabriel Genesis album, Trick of the Tail, is chock full of this stuff: Dance on a Volcano is in 7/8. Robbery, Assault & Battery has a keyboard solo which alternates between 7/8 and 6/8.

ELP's Tarkus (the song/suite) is in many times: Eruption is in 10/8, Iconoclast is in 10/8, Manticore is in 9/8.

Kansas did some of this - the title track to Song for America has an extended instrumental passage in 9/8.

Frank Zappa had loads of this stuff, as RealityChuck notes: Other examples include Don't Eat The Yellow Show (7/8), Echidna's Arf (portions in 5/8), and Don't You Ever Wash That Thing ([2+5rest]+[3+5rest]+[5+5rest]+ [2+5rest]+[3+5rest]+[5+5rest]+[6+10rest]...) :rolleyes: I know it's not exactly a pop tune but Discipline by King Crimson probably takes the biscuit. I've never seen it written down but at times there are simultaneous guitar parts in 15 and 14, I don't know how that would be notated. Anyone ever seen a score for this? (Tab does not count).You got that right. I've never seen any King Crimson music in other than tab, because Fripp won't publish it. They use odd time signatures more often than not. For a treat :) , try figuring out what the time signature of Starless from Red is, especially the rocking part about 90 seconds before the end, prior to the restatement of the opening theme. Yikes.

K364
06-06-2006, 07:17 PM
Cat Steven's "Rubylove" is in 7/8.

"Skimbleshanks" from Cats has the chorus in 13/8.

Askia
06-06-2006, 07:24 PM
Um... I'm pretty sure I spent my time the week this was covered in music appreciation class peeking out the window at the women walking by wearing summer dresses.

How exactly does one tell time signatures in songs?

ninevah
06-06-2006, 07:34 PM
I think Golden Brown by The Stranglers was in something odd but I can't find anything to back me up.
Well, I always thought most of it was 3/4 time (has that waltzing feel to it), however Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Brown) states:

"Golden Brown" is a waltzing, harpsichord-led ballad in a 6/8 and 7/8 time signature from The Stranglers. (The instrumental bridges add an extra beat in every other measure, effectively producing a 13/8 time signature)

...Guess I need to revise my music theory!

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-06-2006, 08:20 PM
I know it's not exactly a pop tune but Discipline by King Crimson probably takes the biscuit. I've never seen it written down but at times there are simultaneous guitar parts in 15 and 14, I don't know how that would be notated. Anyone ever seen a score for this? (Tab does not count).
Bill Bruford's book When in Doubt, Roll has the basic drum and bass/stick pattern written out. It's essentially in 17/16, but with the bass drum playing even quarter notes, so the "one" only comes together after four repetitions of the pattern.

DooWahDiddy
06-06-2006, 08:45 PM
How exactly does one tell time signatures in songs?

Well the simple answer is "what can you count to before you reach the downbeat (or accented beat)?" Most songs are in 4/4, which means if you were dancing to it, for example, you would count 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. A waltz, which is in 3/4, only has three beats per measure, so it's 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3.

The bottom number in the fraction is the kind of beat that gets the note, and the top number is how many beats each measure gets. So 4/4 means a quarter note gets the beat, and there are 4 per measure. 6/8 means an eighth note gets the beat, and there are 6 in each measure. Most blues songs are in 12/8 (which is pretty much the same as 6/8), to give you some perspective.

Hippy Hollow
06-06-2006, 09:12 PM
I know several of Sting's songs fit this category, and I actually found this list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_in_irregular_time_signatures) that might help.

DooWahDiddy
06-06-2006, 09:24 PM
Oh and I just thought of another one... "Everything's Alright" from Jesus Christ Superstar is in 5/4.

F. U. Shakespeare
06-06-2006, 09:31 PM
Another Led Zeppelin song (probably ever less 'popular' than 'Four Sticks') is 'The Crunge', from 'Houses of the Holy'.

I'm no expert here, but there's a difference between an unusual number of beats per measure (i.e., something other than 2, 3, or 4), and a changing number of beats per measure.

Some of the Carter Family's songs would routinely drop a beat or two resulting in a nice little surprise or other dramatic effect.

Many early blues songs were quite complicated (Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Skip James, et al): one singer accompanying himself on guitar was his own timekeeper.

Kilvert's Pagan
06-06-2006, 09:39 PM
Some of the Carter Family's songs would routinely drop a beat or two resulting in a nice little surprise or other dramatic effect. Yeah. Blondie did this too, in Heart of Glass.

Another perhaps surprising candidate: The Allman Brothers' Whipping Post starts out in 11/4 (or at least 3+3+3+2). Maybe that's the other reason Zappa liked it. :D

Cockatiel
06-06-2006, 09:40 PM
Not sure if this counts as popular, but Yes's Perpetual Change goes all over the place. I've heard 4/4, 3/4, 14/4, and what I think is 10/4.

How exactly does one tell time signatures in songs?

That's a hard question to answer. I didn't use to be able to do it. I always asked my dad (a guitarist) the same question when I was younger. Then when I took up the flute and started actually experiencing music firsthand, strong beats, weak beats, off beats, I discovered I was able to "feel" it. The strongest beat always comes at the beginning of a measure, and you count the beats till you feel the next strong one. In other words, I don't really know how I do it, I jes do it.

wolf_meister
06-06-2006, 10:34 PM
DooWahDiddy
"We Can Work It Out" had me fooled then. (Must have been those triplets).
Okay, in order to redeem myself, here's another Beatles' song with a change in time signatures:
"Here Comes The Sun". Most of the song is in 4/4 but the part that goes "Sun sun sun, here we come" is in 5/4.

jackelope
06-06-2006, 11:18 PM
The Pixies monkeyed with time signatures quite a bit, especially on Doolittle. "La La Love You" is in 5/4; "There Goes My Gun" alternates between 7/4 and 3/4 (which is badass).

And Frank Black (formerly Black Francis, of the abovementioned Pixies) messes around with time signatures on his solo albums now and then. "All My Ghosts," on Frank Black and the Catholics, has a bridge that does the same thing twice in a row, except the first run-through is in 8/4, the second in 7/4. "Nadine," on Show Me Your Tears, is a standard 12-bar blues, but the bars that would traditionally be numbers 10-12 are cut out, so it's more of a 9-bar blues.

And the final verse of the song "I've Seen Your Picture," on Dog in the Sand, is in some kind of madcap accelerating tempo, in which every few lines the bars shorten and he has to start cutting off his own lyrics to get to the next line. It's amazing.

dalej42
06-06-2006, 11:25 PM
How about Cream's White Room? It is in 5/4 time.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-06-2006, 11:29 PM
How about Cream's White Room? It is in 5/4 time.
Only the intro, though.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-06-2006, 11:34 PM
"Here Comes The Sun". Most of the song is in 4/4 but the part that goes "Sun sun sun, here we come" is in 5/4.
It's more complex than that. It starts with a bar of 2/4, then three bars of 3/8, one bar of 5/8, then a bar of 4/4. This pattern repeats a total of six times, first as an instrumental, then through the five repetitions of the "Sun, sun, sun" chorus, before resolving back to 4/4.

Another instance of shifting meters in Beatle music is "All You Need Is Love." The verses go 4/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, three bars of 4/4, 3/4, and repeat.

K364
06-06-2006, 11:59 PM
Yes, John Lennon threw in the occasional extra beat: both "Don't Let Me Down" and "Across The Universe" have isolated bars of 5/4 in a 4/4 song.

Hometownboy
06-07-2006, 01:34 AM
I'm not sure whether it's an odd pattern of rests or an odd time signature, but something strange is going in with k.d. lang's "Watch Your Step Polka" from "Angel With a Lariat." Anybody got a firm handle on that one?

Monkey Chews
06-07-2006, 04:57 AM
Broken Social Scene's recent single "7/4 (Shoreline)" is in - surprise, surprise - 7/4 time. Fantastic song.

Jurph
06-07-2006, 06:05 AM
Another Led Zeppelin song (probably ever less 'popular' than 'Four Sticks') is 'The Crunge', from 'Houses of the Holy'.

"The Ocean" from that same album gets heavy airplay; it's in 4-4-4-3. Someone - Bonzo, I hope - counts off the beat at the beginning for everyone, but his "one, two, three" actually takes six beats to count.

Done four already
but now we're steady
and then they went:
one. two. three.

Dave Brubeck's whole album "Time Out" was about unusual time signatures; there's no song on it in straight 4/4. The Toadies' "Possum Kingdom" is 4-4-4-2, 4-4-4-2-2. That last measure might be four but it sure feels like two and two! Last but not least, Nine Inch Nails "March of the Pigs" is in 6-6-6-7, with a bridge in 4/4.

Musicat
06-07-2006, 06:37 AM
How exactly does one tell time signatures in songs?For the denominator, short of knowing the original composer's intention, you can't.

And the original composer might not have written it down on paper, but played it on the guitar, and not been able to read music anyway.

The denominator of a time sig does not tell us the speed at which the composition is played (the tempo does that), but it is common convention nowdays to use a quarter note for moderate tempos and and eighth note for faster ones. Centuries ago, this was looser, and sigs sometimes had 16th or 32nds as their denominator, or even 1 (whole) or 2 (half note).

Since it is possible to express multiplications and divisions of any length of note (a whole note is twice the duration of a half, 4X that of a quarter, for example, regardless of tempo), theoretically it is possible to have a time sig of 4/32 with a tempo of Largo which would sound slower than a 4/1 in Presto, but this is more of an academic exercise. The only drawback to using a sig at the extreme end of either range is 1. it looks funny, 2. is unnecessary, and 3. you may run out of practical notes -- if the sig is 4/64, you might need 128th notes to subdivide and that gets pretty stupid and hard to read.

The OP said "popular" songs, but Linda Ronstadt had one in 7/4 (or 7/something) called "Get Closer".

YWalker
06-07-2006, 08:10 AM
I remember being taught that the "numerator" told you how many beats were in a measure, and the "denominator" told you what type of note counted as a beat.

That is, 3/4 time means that there are three beats per measure, each quarter note is equal to one full beat.

wheelie
06-07-2006, 11:38 AM
Frank Zappa liked changing time signatures all the time. His "Dancin' Fool" -- which reached #45, his second most successful single -- keeps changing so that, though ostensibly a dance song, it is impossible to dance to.
In Toads of the Short Forest, FZ says "At this very moment on stage, we have drummer A playing in 7/8, drummer B playing in 3/4, the bass playing in 3/4, the organ playing in 5/8, the tambourine playing in 3/4, and the alto sax blowing his nose."
Kinda makes dancing to Dancing Fool look easy. :D

DfrntBreign
06-07-2006, 06:21 PM
I hope you haven't all left, yet.

Santana did a song on the Welcome album called "Flame-Sky". I've been trying to wrap my head around the time signature of that song for almost twenty years and just can not figure it out. I think it must be some kind of "mental blind spot" on my part. I can even play ((drums, no less) along with) it, just can't count it (how weird is that?).

Is anyone here familiar with the song?

And can you Please, Please, Please help me break it down?

Airman Doors, USAF
06-07-2006, 06:24 PM
Not exactly "popular", but Nine Inch Nails' March of the Pigs has a 29/8 time signature.

jjimm
06-07-2006, 06:31 PM
Aha, nobody's yet mentioned America off of Bernstein's West Side Story.

Not that complex compared to others mentioned, but it appears to be one bar of 6/8 followed by one of 3/4. There's probably a more musically correct way of expressing that, but it's been a while since I studied the subject.

1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2 1-2 1-2

[I like to] [be in A] [me|-ri|-ca|]

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-07-2006, 07:51 PM
And can you Please, Please, Please help me break it down?
I count it as four bars of 3/8 followed by a bar of 3/16.

DfrntBreign
06-07-2006, 10:34 PM
I count it as four bars of 3/8 followed by a bar of 3/16.
I do, too. Now. Thanks Biffy!

(123)(223)(323)(423)(1e&), Yup, that's it. If I thought of myself as a serious musician I'd be embarrassed. Good thing I don't. :)

TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW
06-07-2006, 11:51 PM
"Hey Ya" by Outkast is 6+8.


Cite? It's pretty clearly 4/4.

ZebraShaSha
06-07-2006, 11:58 PM
The OP said popular, but when one talks about time signatures in contemporary music, there has to be atleast one mention of math rock. Math rock's entire purpose is to change the time signature, and it gets its name from being so "numerical" in the way the time is changed.

Probably the most well known group labeled by some to be math rock would be either Drive like Jehu, Slint, or Breadwinner. They are the most common names atleast, with Drive Like Jehu also considered big in emo circles.

The biggest name in math rock is without question Steve Albini, guitarist and originator of the genre. He played solo or in bands like Shellac, but is most well known as a record producer. He has recorded bands like Mogwai, Fugazi, Bush, Nirvana, etc etc.

Of course, all of this is not to be confused with mathcore (or tech metal or metal core [though metal core isn't mathcore]). Tech metal is a crazy, highly technical, and complex beyond anything genre of metalcore.

Oh, and as for the OP, Captain Beefheart had a couple of odd songs here and there, if they can be considered "pop."

thirdname
06-08-2006, 12:11 AM
re: Hey Ya:

Cite? It's pretty clearly 4/4.
Actually I think it's 8+6 rather than 6+8. I'm not big on the song but think of around when he says "shake, shake it like a Polaroid Picture."

DUMM, da-da, Dumm, da-da, Dumm, da-da, da-da
4+4+4+2 ("Dumm" is 2 beats and "da-da" is 2.)

and it repeats. It might be 8+6+8 or something like that, but there's definitely an 8+6 rythym that's common throughout the song.

ZebraShaSha
06-08-2006, 12:12 AM
Oh, I forgot to mention: The Dillinger Escape Plan is tech metal, and they have reached #106 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums with "Miss Machine."

Does that count?

JKellyMap
06-08-2006, 12:14 AM
Radiohead, The Tourist : 12/4, then 10/4, then back to triple time, IIRC. Not super-popular, but the closing number on probably their most well-known album (OK Computer).

thirdname
06-08-2006, 12:20 AM
Cite? It's pretty clearly 4/4.
Google search "Hey Ya" "time signature" (http://www.google.com/search?q=%22hey%20ya%22%20%22time%20signature%22) Apparently it does have an extra 8 after what I just wrote and is thus in 22/8, or 11/4. It's more like:

DUMM, da-da, Dumm, da-da, Dumm, da-da, da-da. Dumm, da-da, Dumm, da-da.

Rico
06-08-2006, 02:12 AM
If you go back (quite a) few years to the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha, the song Dulcinea about Don Quixote's unrequited love is in alternating measures of 6/8 and 3/4 time throughout the whole song.

Looks strange written out, seeing a new time signature every measure.

dnooman
06-08-2006, 02:32 AM
And post-Gabriel Genesis's "Turn it on Again" is 13/4 in places.
Nope. I thought so too. Or, at least I thought it was something weird. Try counting quarter notes through the song, it fits. Multiples of 12 at least.

Not exactly "popular", but Nine Inch Nails' March of the Pigs has a 29/8 time signature. Really? You fly-boys crack me up.

Such complicated forms are usually broken down into components of "normal" time. Like 7+7+7+5, or somesuch.

Yes and Rush are the kings of mixed signatures, that's why geeks like them, and that's why non-geeks will never understand them. Circle of life, and so on.

dnooman
06-08-2006, 02:36 AM
Google search "Hey Ya" "time signature" (http://www.google.com/search?q=%22hey%20ya%22%20%22time%20signature%22) Apparently it does have an extra 8 after what I just wrote and is thus in 22/8, or 11/4. It's more like:

DUMM, da-da, Dumm, da-da, Dumm, da-da, da-da. Dumm, da-da, Dumm, da-da.
There is no 22/8. People that write music make smaller pieces that can add up to theese numbers, but they are only pieces. Said piece breaks down any number of ways.

Richard Pearse
06-08-2006, 06:21 AM
There is no 22/8. People that write music make smaller pieces that can add up to theese numbers, but they are only pieces. Said piece breaks down any number of ways.

Surely you can have 22/8 in the same way you can have 6/8 or 4/4.

Aspidistra
06-08-2006, 06:44 AM
DooWahDiddy
"We Can Work It Out" had me fooled then. (Must have been those triplets).


I have to disagree with both of you on that. To my ears it's 4/4 with at least one 2/4 bar thrown in

As in


1 2 3 4
{rest} {rest} And there's no ti-
i- i- i- i- ime-
{rest} {rest}for fuss- ing- and
fight- ing my friend -
{rest} {rest}
I have always ...


- the 2/4 four bar is the gap between "friend" and "I"

or, even better


1 2 3 4
{rest} {rest} And there's no ti-
i- i- i- i- ime-
{rest} {rest}for fuss- ing- and
fight- ing my friend -
{rest} {rest}
I have always ...


- three 2/4 bars one after each other

(I can see how you might try to parse it as two 3/4's, but to my ears it's three 2/4's with triplets in them - definitely not all 4/4)

DooWahDiddy
06-08-2006, 07:35 AM
I have to disagree with both of you on that. To my ears it's 4/4 with at least one 2/4 bar thrown in

As in


1 2 3 4
{rest} {rest} And there's no ti-
i- i- i- i- ime-
{rest} {rest}for fuss- ing- and
fight- ing my friend -
{rest} {rest}
I have always ...


- the 2/4 four bar is the gap between "friend" and "I"

or, even better


1 2 3 4
{rest} {rest} And there's no ti-
i- i- i- i- ime-
{rest} {rest}for fuss- ing- and
fight- ing my friend -
{rest} {rest}
I have always ...


- three 2/4 bars one after each other

(I can see how you might try to parse it as two 3/4's, but to my ears it's three 2/4's with triplets in them - definitely not all 4/4)


You may want to go listen to the song again. You're missing two beats in between "friend" and "I". The piano and bass are playing a four-note descending pattern, all half notes, which you wouldn't be able to do if one of the measures was 2/4.

"Fighting" is on beat 1, "friend" is on beat 3, then there's an entire measure where there are no vocals before "I". Those two measures are basically 12 quarter-note triplets in a row.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-08-2006, 07:41 AM
Nope. I thought so too. Or, at least I thought it was something weird. Try counting quarter notes through the song, it fits. Multiples of 12 at least.
Usram was correct. The verses are in 13, or more accurately, alternating 6/4 and 7/4. Then it shifts to 4/4 for the "I can show you" part, but does a lot of time signature shifting on the briidge, on the "I, I get so lonely" part.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-08-2006, 07:58 AM
You may want to go listen to the song again. You're missing two beats in between "friend" and "I". The piano and bass are playing a four-note descending pattern, all half notes, which you wouldn't be able to do if one of the measures was 2/4.

"Fighting" is on beat 1, "friend" is on beat 3, then there's an entire measure where there are no vocals before "I". Those two measures are basically 12 quarter-note triplets in a row.
I just pulled out the sheet music to see how they handle this. (And of course I checked it against the record to make sure they hadn't dropped any measures.) They actually notate "for fussing and" as a bar of 2/4 and a bar of 3/4 with a half note = dotted half note marking. Then four more bars of 3/4 and a return to 4/4 with dotted half = half. I'm not entirely sure I agree with this notational choice--to my ear, it means changing meter in the middle of a bar on "fussing"--but it works.

Kilvert's Pagan
06-08-2006, 08:01 AM
Usram was correct. The verses are in 13, or more accurately, alternating 6/4 and 7/4. Then it shifts to 4/4 for the "I can show you" part, but does a lot of time signature shifting on the briidge, on the "I, I get so lonely" part.I think that the "I, I get so lonely" part is in "13" as well, but with different emphases (3+3+4+3?).

It's sure not in 4.

Ximenean
06-08-2006, 08:05 AM
And post-Gabriel Genesis's "Turn it on Again" is 13/4 in places.
Nope. I thought so too. Or, at least I thought it was something weird. Try counting quarter notes through the song, it fits. Multiples of 12 at least.
ISTR seeing an interview with Mike Rutherford in which he said that it was Phil Collins (who ought to know, being the drummer and all) who pointed out the unusual time signature (I suppose they didn't write their music out when they were composing it). I certainly seem to hear an extra 13th beat in the initial guitar figure.

DooWahDiddy
06-08-2006, 08:23 AM
I just pulled out the sheet music to see how they handle this. (And of course I checked it against the record to make sure they hadn't dropped any measures.) They actually notate "for fussing and" as a bar of 2/4 and a bar of 3/4 with a half note = dotted half note marking. Then four more bars of 3/4 and a return to 4/4 with dotted half = half. I'm not entirely sure I agree with this notational choice--to my ear, it means changing meter in the middle of a bar on "fussing"--but it works.

I'm not sure which book you have, but I have the big phonebook-looking thing, that has the full score to every Beatles' song written, and sure enough they notate no time change at all, just triplets. I'm willing to concede that you could write it the way you mentioned, but I just don't see the need. Playing 12 triplets in a row is a hell of a lot easier than changing meters and trying to keep the same tempo.

Ludovic
06-08-2006, 08:48 AM
I guess I'll try again before I break down and start another thread. While we're all here, what is the time signature to "Hashpipe"? It sounds like it's 4/4 but the hook would sound more natural in 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 /4.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-08-2006, 09:54 AM
I'm not sure which book you have, but I have the big phonebook-looking thing, that has the full score to every Beatles' song written, and sure enough they notate no time change at all, just triplets.
Sorry, I neglected to mention that the book I looked at was The Compleat Beatles. I agree with you, and I would have notated the part in straight 4/4 with triplets myself, but the Compleat notation does make sense in a way, reflecting how the whole band shifts to a 3/4 feel (as opposed to a three-against-two triplet feel). I mean, listen to Ringo--the dude's sitting in the Biergarten playing an oom-pah-pah Walz for four bars. And the "half = dotted half" notation is really just another way of writing "everything after this point is triplets" without sticking brackets all over everything.

Skywatcher
06-08-2006, 10:45 AM
Mike Oldfield "Tubular Bells" (theme from The Exorcist) (30-beat cycle divided 7+7+7+9/8)I've seen an arrangement that varies between 5/4 and 4/4.

Skywatcher
06-08-2006, 10:53 AM
The Chipmunk Song ("Christmas Don't Be Late") is a waltz. Very unusual for a #1 hit in 1958.

Ichbin Dubist
06-08-2006, 11:10 AM
There are a bunch more Beatles songs with changing time signatures: "Good Morning, Good Morning," "She Said She Said" "Within You Without You" (instrumental section is in 5/4), "Don't Let Me Down," "Happiness is a Warm Gun" (nice bit in the middle where the band goes into 3/4 but the drums stay in 4), "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "You Never Give Me Your Money", etc. I can't think of one that stays in an odd time throughout, though. Alan W. Pollock (www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/awp-alphabet.shtml) explains a lot of it on this website, and more than you want to know besides.

There are a ton of Burt Bacharach tunes with odd time signatures. No one's mentioned Yes, either.

I found an interesting Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_in_irregular_time_signatures) on iregular time signatures, but can't vouch for it's accuracy (especially where it gets up into the 27/11s and the like).

KidScruffy
06-08-2006, 12:59 PM
I've seen an arrangement that varies between 5/4 and 4/4.

When I learned the opening melody to Tubular Bells (the full song is about 30-minutes long) I imagined it alternating between measures of 7/8 and 8/8 - with two notes per beat. Not that it matters much, just sayin'.

Kilvert's Pagan
06-08-2006, 01:07 PM
Mike Oldfield "Tubular Bells" (theme from The Exorcist) (30-beat cycle divided 7+7+7+9/8)I've seen an arrangement that varies between 5/4 and 4/4.I've been playing this on piano for 32 years and I'm convinced that Biffy has this right.

DooWahDiddy
06-08-2006, 08:45 PM
Sorry, I neglected to mention that the book I looked at was The Compleat Beatles. I agree with you, and I would have notated the part in straight 4/4 with triplets myself, but the Compleat notation does make sense in a way, reflecting how the whole band shifts to a 3/4 feel (as opposed to a three-against-two triplet feel). I mean, listen to Ringo--the dude's sitting in the Biergarten playing an oom-pah-pah Walz for four bars. And the "half = dotted half" notation is really just another way of writing "everything after this point is triplets" without sticking brackets all over everything.

Yeah, I can totally see where you're coming from. Just further proof, I guess, that music isn't an exact science! I can see it working both ways. For clarity purposes, though, I still prefer the triplet method.

mamboman
06-09-2006, 08:23 AM
"Cattle & Cane" by the Go-Betweens is in 5/4 time. I'd hate to even hazard a guess at the time signature(s) involved in some Burt Bacharach songs like "Promises, Promises" and the little coda at the end of "Raindrops keep falling on my Head"

"Getting Better" by the Beatles has oddly timed bars thrown in everywhere, as does "Happiness is A Warm Gun".

There's a few mid 60's Miles Davis tunes - "Black Comedy" for Miles In The Sky, "Masquelero" et al, where Tony Williams was really wailing, where the time signature shifts and blurs to almost incomprehensibility.

mamboman
06-09-2006, 08:25 AM
Oh, and Bob Dylan originally wrote "Like A Rolling Stone" in 3/4 time. Imagine that!

Skywatcher
06-09-2006, 08:27 AM
I've been playing this on piano for 32 years and I'm convinced that Biffy has this right.I'm not saying Oldfield didn't compose it that way, just that I've seen sheet music with a 5/4 - 4/4 arrangement.

Kilvert's Pagan
06-09-2006, 09:03 AM
I'm not saying Oldfield didn't compose it that way, just that I've seen sheet music with a 5/4 - 4/4 arrangement.Understood. Perhaps likewise, I've seen sheet music for Steely Dan's Aja written in C, when (I think) it's in B. For pianists, of course, C is a much easier key to play in. I wonder if that explains the 5/4-4/4 thing as well?

Musicat
06-09-2006, 10:00 AM
Aha, nobody's yet mentioned America off of Bernstein's West Side Story.

Not that complex compared to others mentioned, but it appears to be one bar of 6/8 followed by one of 3/4. There's probably a more musically correct way of expressing that, but it's been a while since I studied the subject.

1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2 1-2 1-2

[I like to] [be in A] [me|-ri|-ca|]I don't have my original sheet music of that song in front of me, but I seem to recall it was the same time sig throughout.

Just because the accents shift doesn't mean the time sig must change, and it usually doesn't for this kind of rhythm. 6/8 can be subdivided as 3+3 or 2+2+2 without any special notation, although some composers will helpfully indicate (3+3)(2+2+2) as a sub-sig at the start of the piece if every 2 bars will repeat the rhythm every time.

How the composer notates such rhythmic complexities is often a personal choice. If the sig changes from x/4 to x/8, he will have to tell the performer what is constant, that is, does a quarter note retain the same time value in each sig, or does an 8th note take on the previous value of the quarter?

Sometimes there is a change in feel to 3 notes in place of 2 (a triplet). While a time sig could be used for this, it is a lot easier to use a 3:2 notation over the 3 notes (a bracket or slur with "3" in the middle, the "2" is assumed). This makes more sense if the change is infrequent in the tune. However, I have seen the 3:2 notation used for every single measure in a song, either out of ignorance or misplaced notational exuberance.

I once had someone tell me to use that clumsy notation for a song when 6/8 would have been the "right" way to most musicians. The reason given (it was the person who hired me, so he got to decide) was that no amateur musician could read 6/8, and would reject the sheet music the minute he saw the unfamiliar sig, but they could read 4/4 with a forest of triplets and would buy it.

And if the "composer" was the kind who doesn't write (on paper) music, the person who wrote down what you buy for sheet music may have been a scribe who was given the recorded music and told to write it out. In this case, what you see on paper may not be what a more classically-trained musician would write. However, in the case of any Sondheim/Bernstein work, I strongly suspect it was written down exactly.

If anyone recalls Henry Mancini's big band version of "Green Onions," that is an interesting example of the triplet feel. The entire song is in a swing 4/4, but the last 16 bars suddenly switches to a strong triplet feel and never switches back. Did Hank write that in 3/4 or just use quarter note triplets? Dunno -- I didn't work for Hank until years later, so I haven't seen his original score and it could work either way.

DooWahDiddy
06-09-2006, 10:08 AM
I don't have my original sheet music of that song in front of me, but I seem to recall it was the same time sig throughout.

Just because the accents shift doesn't mean the time sig must change, and it usually doesn't for this kind of rhythm. 6/8 can be subdivided as 3+3 or 2+2+2 without any special notation, although some composers will helpfully indicate (3+3)(2+2+2) as a sub-sig at the start of the piece if every 2 bars will repeat the rhythm every time.



Actually I think this one is pretty clear, and jjimm is right. My West Side score has it notated as 6/8 (3/4), and if you listen to the song it's clearly bum bum bum bum bum bum BUM BUM BUM, bum bum bum bum bum bum BUM BUM BUM.

Okay, kind of difficult to demonstrate without sound, but I agree with jjimm.

Malacandra
06-09-2006, 10:29 AM
Actually I think this one is pretty clear, and jjimm is right. My West Side score has it notated as 6/8 (3/4), and if you listen to the song it's clearly bum bum bum bum bum bum BUM BUM BUM, bum bum bum bum bum bum BUM BUM BUM.

Okay, kind of difficult to demonstrate without sound, but I agree with jjimm.

Exactly the same is true of Ron Goodwin's movie theme for 633 Squadron.


It's not an unusual time signature, of course, but I like the rhythm played by the strings in the "Morse" signature tune: dah dah / dah dah dah / dit dah dit / di-di-dit; dit/. Or as it's otherwise known, -- --- .-. ... . :)

Skywatcher
06-11-2006, 11:45 AM
Understood. Perhaps likewise, I've seen sheet music for Steely Dan's Aja written in C, when (I think) it's in B. For pianists, of course, C is a much easier key to play in. I wonder if that explains the 5/4-4/4 thing as well?I think so.

BTW: I was a little off; it's actually 4/4 4/4 4/4 3/4 4/4 4/4 4/4 3/4, which makes more sense.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-11-2006, 04:05 PM
BTW: I was a little off; it's actually 4/4 4/4 4/4 3/4 4/4 4/4 4/4 3/4, which makes more sense.
At least it adds up to the right number of beats in the end, even if it puts the "one" in all the wrong places. The Tubular Bells piano sheet music book I have has even more bizarre notation: the opening theme, for right hand only, is notated as a pattern of three bars of 7/8 and one bar of 9/8, which is all well and good, but then the countertheme enters in the left hand, and is notated as 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, 5/4...sharing the same barlines as the 7/8 and 9/8 measures in the right hand!!! Consequently, notes are shown aligned vertically that aren't actually played together. What a mess!

jjimm
06-11-2006, 04:20 PM
Jethro Tull "Living in the Past" (5/4)I wondered if anyone else had mentioned Jethro Tull. I knew a keyboardist who was auditioning for them, pissed off that nearly everything they wrote was in a weird time signature and key, "for no apparent reason".

Anyway, I don't think Living in the Past is 5/4. I've been doing some clapping in the kitchen (my wife thinks I'm mad) and think it's two sets of three followed by two sets of two. What's that? 1 bar of 6/8 followed by one of 4/8?

||| ||| || || ||| |||
Ha-ppy and I'm smiling
|| || ||| |||
Walk a mile to
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Drink your water.

ululate
06-11-2006, 05:05 PM
I'm woefully ignorant of the specifics, but isn't Steely Dan famous for playing around with this sort of thing?

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-11-2006, 05:31 PM
Anyway, I don't think Living in the Past is 5/4. I've been doing some clapping in the kitchen (my wife thinks I'm mad) and think it's two sets of three followed by two sets of two. What's that? 1 bar of 6/8 followed by one of 4/8?

Well, you're right about the beat pattern, but all you've done is determined how the 5/4 measure is subdivided. It's simply a syncopated beat, and it would be an unnecessary and pointless complication to write it as changing meters, like writing a rumba as 3/8 + 3/8 + 2/8 instead of simply 4/4. In any case, with "Living in the Past," we have no doubt as to the composer's intention, as Ian Anderson has frequently mentioned the 5/4 time signature when introducing the song onstage.

Small Clanger
06-12-2006, 03:51 AM
I'm woefully ignorant of the specifics, but isn't Steely Dan famous for playing around with this sort of thing?Nope, there may be the odd bar of 2 or 3 (in Aja maybe?) but they stick to 4/4 pretty much. What makes them stand out is their chord sequences, a lot of their stuff reads more like jazz charts than "normal" pop song music.

wolf_meister
06-27-2006, 09:21 AM
Guess I'll give this thread a bump.

How about this song from 1967 - "You Better Sit Down Kids". It's sung by Cher but written and produced by Sonny Bono.
The song is mostly played in 4/4 time but the part that goes "Say your prayers, before you go to bed, make sure you get yourself to school on time", etc is very different from the rest of the song.
Is this some weird time signature like 7/4 or is it just a matter of syncopation?