Introduction to Odd Time Signatures

  1. Quarter notes

The first part to understanding Time Signatures is quarter note feel. It is also called a pulse. Right now we are talking about a quarter note pulse. Most drummers can play in 4/4. Which means 4 beats to a measure. We know that much. So logically what happens when we change the top number to 3? Then you count to 3 and repeat. That’s 3/4. Any monkey can count to 3 or 4. Now let’s change the number to a 5. Count to 5 and repeat. That’s it! It’s that simple!

  1. 8th Notes

When you play a regular 4/4 rock beat, your right hand is usually playing 8th notes on the hi-hat or ride. Hence It sounds like – 1&2&3&4&. That’s the 8th note feel or pulse. now, let’s take one 8th note out, which would make it 7 notes instead. Now the groove turns into 7/8. Now the pulse is an 8th note pulse. So you would count at the speed of your 8th notes, and count up to 7. Rinse and repeat. This works for any number. Within reason of course.

  1. 16th Notes

And the last is our 16th note pulse. Here’s how to understand counting in a 16th feel. Start off counting 16th notes in 4/4 as an exercise – 1e+a 2e+a 3e+a 4e+a
Now, change the number to a 7. The way you would count it in 7/16 would be – 1212123 and repeat.

Zac Treby

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