All right, this may be an easy topic for many and many may wonder why I even have such a hard time figuring this out as I am myself.

The question is: How can I figure out the time signature of songs? I'm starting to train my ear and learn by ear and then transcribe them out. Today I was transcribing Scorpion's Rock You Like A Hurricane only to realise that I have no idea of the definite time signature. I'm asking you to NOT tell me what it is. I need some advice on how to figure out the time signature of this song and any others I come across in the future.

I have a feeling that the more I do this, the more doors I'll open to myself. It did for Steve Vai at least. So any advice?
Tap along to the beat and just count it. And learn about different time signatures and where the beats fall etc.
Thank you. It's going to take some increased listening, but I should be able to do it.
I vaguely remember that song and i'm trying to play it in my head, it has got an irregular beat so it's gonna have a complex time signature.

Count out the beats and listen to where they come.

4/4 = 4 beats in a bar / 4 is the value of each beat (Crotchet)
5/4 = 5 beats in a bar / 4 is the value of each beat (Crotchet)
12/8 = 12 beats in a bar / 8 is the value of each beat (Quaver)

Do any of those make sense? Can you tell what fits and what doesn't, and more importantly, why they don't work?
Last edited by Calibos at Dec 16, 2009,
Quote by Calibos
I vaguely remember that song and i'm trying to play it in my head, it has got an irregular beat so it's gonna have a complex time signature.

Count out the beats and listen to where they come.

4/4 = 4 beats in a bar / 4 is the value of each beat (Crotchet)
5/4 = 5 beats in a bar / 4 is the value of each beat (Crotchet)
12/8 = 12 beats in a bar / 8 is the value of each beat (Quaver)

Do any of those make sense? Can you tell what fits and what doesn't, and more importantly, why they don't work?

Technically 12/8 has 4 beats because it's a compound time signature

TS, try tapping your foot or or your fingers. Count how many times you tap your foot before the section repeats itself. The easiest part for that particular song is in the chorus. Count one for the bass drum and one for the snare drum. Contrary to the previous poster's statements, it's not a complex time signature.
Also try composing stuff in odd time signatures yourself. You'll quickly notice that there is a certain 'feel' in for example songs in 5/8. It'll be easier to recognise that feel in existing songs