What time signature is this song in?

The song is “Adieu, Adieu” by Fairport Convention. What time signature is this in? IS there a time signature at all? Or is there a combination of time signatures?

I think I’m pretty well-versed in music, but I can’t figure it out. I’ve played it for multiple other people who are well-versed in music and THEY can’t figure it out.

Maybe someone here can figure it out?


From here.

I believe the Mission: Impossible theme is also 5/4.

^ that song is clearly and unambiguously in 5/4 time.

The song in my OP is NOT clearly and unambiguously in 5/4 time. I am not convinced it is in 5/4 time just because one passing mention on a site claims that it is. (I’m not trying to shit all over Silenus’s good faith effort to determine the answer, I just hesitate to accept it.)

Holy crap, what a horrible mess that song is. I can’t figure out its time signature either, and I’m not subjecting myself to a second listen of that cacophony to count it out.

My favourite unusual time signature song is the Eleventh Doctor’s theme, which is in 7/4, because 7+4=11.

I can mentally fit it into 5/4, but silenus’ link describes it as two rounds of 3/4 with the final beat chopped off. That’s not how I hear it - I count it as “one, two, one, two, one.”

I bet it was a bitch to record properly. One of my favorite things about the original recording of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” is the weak gasp of laughter at the end from one of the musicians who was so relieved that they finally made it through the piece without a mistake.

My sense is that it’s in 4/4 but they are singing largely in triplets. If you discipline yourself to ignore the voices, it feels fairly straight forward.

His link is also describing a different recording of the song in question. His link is describing Eliza Carthy’s version of it from her album “Red”. I found this version on Youtube. It is very different.

And yet, what I find really impressive about it is that you don’t notice it’s in an odd time signature unless you start counting the beats. It sounds completely natural and flowing, which I consider a much greater achievement than “merely” playing in 5 or 7. Same thing with Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill. It just flows.

There are other songs where you can really hear the “added” beats. And while it always makes me smile because I love these sort of things, I can never help thinking : “Eh, someone’s been practicing odd time signatures”.

The sig changes during the song right? So it has several. I think there are lots of songs that do this, some lennon songs prominently.

When things are huge hits they usually don’t sound like guys counting off beats. Natural and flowing is basically what songs are, when they’re not trying to upset you I guess. When guys are jazzbos, or session players, ditto. It’s hard to see the achievement of it.

It definitely changes throughout. I didn’t listen to it too closely, because my ears couldn’t take much of it, but it sounds like it starts in 6/4, then goes to two measures of 11/8, then a measure of 3/4 or something. It’s interesting musically, but the abrasive nature of the vocals and the meandering melody make it hard to listen to (for me).

Can’t listen to the recording at work, but probably wouldn’t be of much use.

I play bluegrass/folk bass, and am pretty steady. But often other players will be discussing the time signature, or whether something is in cut time, and it generally goes over my head. A lot of the tunes we play are “crooked.” It was amusing one time, when the 5 of us were discussing how we thought of playing one particular part. All 5 of us had completely different ways of envisioning the passage, and none of us could comprehend any other person’s method!

Most of my bass lines reflect a mood or style for a song, rather than relying on a designated time signature. Of course, the vast majority of music I play is from listening, rather than reading sheet music.

I remember playing some song years back with a frenetic signature - maybe John Hiatt’s Sharon’s Got a Drugstore - the overall song’s signature was quite complex, but each individual player’s part wasn’t especially.

There definitely sounds like there is a time signature change that switches the upbeat and downbeat, suggesting the change involves something over 8.

I would think a musician who can transcribe well would be able to figure this out, but it would probably take a lot of effort and time. Basically, you’d write down the melody (or possibly the percussion track) and figure out how to make it fit. The answer probably won’t quite be unique.

Speaking of funky time signatures.

All You Need Is Love

Alternates between 4/4 and 3/4. Then 4 bars of 4/4 then a bar of 3/4. Etc.

Wonderful chord inversions creating a bass line.

That’ll keep you on your toes. :wink:

No one writes songs like the Beatles.

Or Tubular Bells, which alternates measures of 7 beats with measures of 8.

I’m saying this because it’s a random fact I recently picked up.

Hmm. This made me realise something. In the Ringo Starr version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” it’s in 4/4, whereas the Joe Cocker version is in 3/4.

Don’t forget about “America”, from West Side Story, which alternates between 6/8 and 3/4. There are also tons of odd meters in Man of La Mancha. And, sticking with musical theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber loves odd meters; “Everything’s Alright” from Jesus Christ Superstar is in 5/4, “And the Money Kept Rolling In” from Evita is in 7/8, and “Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat” from Cats is in 13/8.

I’m tired so it may be a bit off, but I’m getting something like a bar of 2/4 followed by a 3/8 (1 and 2 and 1,2,3). I think it still has a few sections that aren’t that, but that keeps me on beat through most of the song.

More like Joe Cocker has swing rather than Ringo’s perfectly square version.