Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Question About Odd Time Signatures

Got an email question in the other day...

Hi Steve. I am Marc Bolger from Fresno California. I recently suscribed to your site. Very good lessons.

One thing I have trouble with is listening to a groove and determining what the time signature is....

Like is it a 5/8 or 7/8 or what not...I think I seem to have trouble listening to when the end of a measure is. I understand well the facts of 1/4 and 1/8 and 16th notes and I can read it well. But listening to it is kind of weird for me. Is there a way I can break it down by ear and understand it or did reaaing a lot just make it develope?

And I want access to all your Zeppelin riffs. You only have about 3 of them ?

I did notice many other types of riffs that I need to study as well.

I am 48 years old. I have played drums for almost 9 years now. I have played guitar for 30+ years and so my sense of timing and ear are quite developed so jumping on drums was maybe a bit for confortable for me.

My drum teacher was impressed and that was a good thing.

I look forward to learning much from you! You are very very good!!

How about some bonham cross sticking triplet paterns broken down?

I loved Fool in the rain" groove. The Ocean was not ever really one of my favorite zepp tunes but it is good schooling from you for sure! So...thanx a lot! ;p)

And again here we go with how you explained the note count within that structure in the ocean. I seem to have a hard time wondering what it is time signature wise.

How about that song by the Police "Spirits in the material world"? is that a 7/8?

I know it is odd time.... I think my main problem is separating the measures?

I have three kits. I vistalite,and Ludwig Blue sparkle with classic lugs in 7 pli North American Maple-26" kick

and my Yamaha with 2 24" kicks in Maple Custom absolute. Im also looking at getting a 36" Paiste Gong and later on I would like 29" Timpany pedal kettle.

With Much respect master Steve

Marc Bolger

I also like your rewind button! ;p()

What up Marc...

Really sorry it took me a hot minute to get back with ya...I've been slammed both with work and on the personal side of things this week...it's taken me an hour this morning to catch up on emails, and I've still got a clinic to plan for Monday! Ahhhhhhh! Good to be busy though...

You know, listening and determining the time signature to a song is a skill that's learned, so don't feel bad for not knowing how to do it right off. It takes time and patience. I would take songs that I knew the time signature of, but maybe didn't know exactly how to count, and then try to count it. Knowing what time signature it was in helped me to feel sure I was counting it correctly. And from there you just have to take each song by itself, play it over and over, and count. Figure out what the subdivision is (quarters, eighth notes, a triple feel, etc) and then figure out how many beats are in a measure. I find that alot of times I can listen to a riff (the guitar, piano, or drum groove) see when it repeats, and then go from that. Singing the riff in my head makes it alot easier to count than just reducing it to numbers...it makes it a musical event instead of a mathmatical event. Make sense?

On your question about the ocean...it's in 15/8 (the opening riff). Another way to count it is one bar of 8/8 (or 4/4) and then one bar of 7/8, and that's repeated 4 times I do believe. Just start counting at the beginning of the song, count to 15 in time, and start over...it'll start to feel right eventually.

And on The Police track "Spirits in a Material World"...no 7/8, lol. It's one of the most deceptive songs I've ever heard...I know how to count it and I still hear it wrong every time! On the intro lick, the snare hit is actually on the "&" of 4, and you start counting after that. It's in 4/4...the bass drum is on 2 and 4 and the keys and accented hihats are on the upbeats. Absolutely a sick and misleading drum intro!

I don't have anymore Led Zeppelin break downs recorded actually...they were all requests. If you have one, let me know and I'll try to get around to breaking it down for ya.

And thanks for the pics...always love some good drum porn,lol! The kits look great!

You're absolutely right about the guitar knowledge you have making it easier to transfer to the drums...you already have alot of the basics of counting and musicality down, which is a cool place to start.

Fyi, I sometimes use emails as blog posts so that everyone can benefit from a private email. I don't use names though. Hope this is ok.

Please keep up with me and let me know how things are goin' for you!

Stephen T.


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