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#1
Searchbarred, found nada

If you look back on pretty much ANY song that's been on the mainstream charts since...well, the last 100 years or so, they're almost exclusively written in 4/4, 3/4 or a variation of these (2/4, 6/8, etc.) How come almost no songs (none that comes to mind at least) with 'weird' time signatures gain much popularity? I know there are bands like dream theater who are very famous in their specific genre, but I'm talking globally, if you asked someone on the street. What's stopping a song being written in 7/8 from making the Top 40? I know that it's 'harder' to write a song in this style, but why? Is it some basic human principle that makes us more relaxed when we hear 4/4 or 3/4, maybe something to do with the beating of our hearts?

TL;DR: why aren't weird time signature songs more popular?

Discuss!
#2
Because it's not as accessible. Popular music isn't meant to be complicated or different.
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#3
The Pink Floyd song Money is in 7/8 if memory serves.

It was on Dark Side Of The Moon.

Dark Side Of The Moon stayed in the top charts for 15 solid years. I'd bet it'd go back for at least a year if reissued with publicity.

Screw your theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Castle_(album)

Also this, a neoclassical rock opera, recently went to the top ten.
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Last edited by necrosis1193 at Jul 29, 2010,
#4
Because if you try to sing along with the song you get confeeoosd.
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#5
Songs in 4/4 are easy to follow and nod your head along to, for some reason - probably some way in which the brain follows the beat. This means non-musically-minded/people that can't be arsed to concentrate and just want to hear decent music can get into it.
#6
Quote by DimebagLivesOn
Because it's not as accessible. Popular music isn't meant to be complicated or different.

What Ian said


Pop songs in 7/8 or 5/4 would be annoying


Plus 4/4, 6/8 is danceable
#7
Quote by DimebagLivesOn
Because it's not as accessible. Popular music isn't meant to be complicated or different.


You're missing the whole point. WHY is it complicated? What makes a 5/8 song more complicated to listen to than a 4/4 song?

[edit:] to necrosis ^ Yes, but 99.9% of songs in the top charts are 3/4 or 4/4
#8
Quote by Hak0
Searchbarred, found nads

How I read it at first.

I'm sure Rush have had at least one hit in the top 40 over the years.
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#9
Probably because it's hard to tap your foot along to something that's not 4/4 or 3/4, which is kinda a big hit to the "catchiness" factor of which is all too important to pop music.
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#12
Because songs that are 4/4, 3/4 or 7/8 are generally easier to listen to and less complicated. Plus they fit in with the beat that people are used to, it's also more 'normal' to have a 4/4 beat to tap along to, and something that was in 5/8 or some similar beat would just be odd to tap to and wouldn't suit a casual audience.
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#13
Quote by necrosis1193
The Pink Floyd song Money is in 7/8 if memory serves.

It was on Dark Side Of The Moon.

Dark Side Of The Moon stayed in the top charts for 15 solid years. I'd bet it'd go back for at least a year if reissued with publicity.


Also changes into 4/4 at the solo, remains one of my favourite changes ever..

Just thought I'd add that.
#14
Quote by L2112Lif
Money's in 5/4.

Some bands don't always write in weird time signatures. A lot get there accidentally. Some Soundgarden songs are in odd time, but they didn't know at the time.


No, it's in 7/8, and the only song in that time signature to ever reach the charts.
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#15
Cuz people are too damn lazy to like songs in 16/9 or such. Nonetheless, here's TRIO (stands for the "The Rhythm Is Odd"). Now TS has something to listen to in an odd time signature. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw-giayCQkk

Edit: Listen to the solo in that time signature. It's fucking weird. Your ears will be going, "WTF is this shit? I like it, but what the hell is it?!"
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jul 29, 2010,
#16
People still use garbage terms like 'mainstream' ?

I haven't heard it in years. I thought it was a goal as a musician to become as widely known with as much exposure as possible?
Since when is getting lots of radio play and being heard by a wide audience a negative thing for a band? Isn't that how you get bigger gigs and more gear, more fans, more travel and larger tours?

All that aside - who cares what time signature a song's in? If it's a good song, it's a good song because of quality writing, not the time signature it's written in.
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Last edited by strat0blaster at Jul 29, 2010,
#17
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Cuz people are too damn lazy to like songs in 16/9 or such. Nonetheless, here's TRIO (stands for the "The Rhythm Is Odd"). Now TS has something to listen to in an odd time signature. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw-giayCQkk

What?
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#19
Yes, yes, i get what you're saying: that 'normal' time signatures are easier to follow and dance to, but WHY? Is it a human principle that we're born with or is it something we learn when we grow up and listen to music? If you only played music in 5/4 to a baby when it was growing up, would that persom find it 'easier' to listen to 5/4?
#20
Quote by Hak0
You're missing the whole point. WHY is it complicated? What makes a 5/8 song more complicated to listen to than a 4/4 song?

[edit:] to necrosis ^ Yes, but 99.9% of songs in the top charts are 3/4 or 4/4


Because most music is 4/4 or 3/4 so it has become the norm for Western music. Music that doesn't fit this naturally sounds more complicated, the beat is typically bad to dance or tap your foot to and it just doesn't suit a casual audience.
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#22
I think if it was done in "odd" time signatures it'd have to be done such that you could tap your foot along without consciously having to think to skip an accent or something. i.e., the beat could cycle over two bars to create an "even" number or each beat is accented equally.

EDIT: Also, a lot of the natural body's rhythms are continuous and I can't think of the damn word, but not "jerky" like 7/8 music can be. We probably subconsciously tap into these rhythms from a young age and get used to them, making music in these rhythms almost natural.
Last edited by uk.mace at Jul 29, 2010,
#23
Quote by strat0blaster
People still use garbage terms like 'mainstream' ?

I haven't heard it in years. I thought it was a goal as a musician to become as widely known with as much exposure as possible?
Since when is getting lots of radio play and being heard by a wide audience a negative thing for a band? Isn't that how you get bigger gigs and more gear, more fans, more travel and larger tours?

I thought it was the goal of a musician to make music.

Anyway, no one used "mainstream" in a negative context in this thread.
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For me, the 60's ended that day in 1978...

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#24
I STRONGLY disagree.

See pink floyd, radiohead, QOTSA, and Foo fighters. All mainstream acts with unusual time signature songs making the charts.
#28
Quote by strat0blaster
People still use garbage terms like 'mainstream' ?

I haven't heard it in years. I thought it was a goal as a musician to become as widely known with as much exposure as possible?
Since when is getting lots of radio play and being heard by a wide audience a negative thing for a band? Isn't that how you get bigger gigs and more gear, more fans, more travel and larger tours?

All that aside - who cares what time signature a song's in? If it's a good song, it's a good song because of quality writing, not the time signature it's written in.


When saying mainstream it's normally attributed to trend listening. Basically anyone who listens to whatever is popular simply because it IS popular.

Then they give you the stupid argument that because it's popular it MUST be good
#29
Quote by strat0blaster
People still use garbage terms like 'mainstream' ?

I haven't heard it in years. I thought it was a goal as a musician to become as widely known with as much exposure as possible?
Since when is getting lots of radio play and being heard by a wide audience a negative thing for a band? Isn't that how you get bigger gigs and more gear, more fans, more travel and larger tours?

All that aside - who cares what time signature a song's in? If it's a good song, it's a good song because of quality writing, not the time signature it's written in.


Please take your irrelevant rant elsewhere. While I agree with your points, nobody said anything about being mainstream being bad.

Edit: On topic, The reason 4/4 is so popular is because it has strong downbeats the whole way through. That means people can dance or tap their feet in a consistent manner. A lot of folks describe it as having a strong groove. People like patterns.
Last edited by piop at Jul 29, 2010,
#30
Quote by salgala2000
Isn't Tom Sawyer by rush in 7/8? I can't remember i haven't listened to moving pictures in a while.........


Oh and YES is bound to have some top 40 songs in wierd time sigs.


One of the riff's is 7/8, but Rush still isn't really considered mainstream...
#31
Also, if I remember correctly, "She Don't Use Jelly", the only Flaming Lips song to ever do remotely well in the charts (though that might have changed in recent times) is in some extremely weird signature that I have never seen used in another song. Don't remember what it was though.

EDIT: There's also Spoonman by Soundgarden.
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#32
Quote by Hak0
Yes, yes, i get what you're saying: that 'normal' time signatures are easier to follow and dance to, but WHY? Is it a human principle that we're born with or is it something we learn when we grow up and listen to music? If you only played music in 5/4 to a baby when it was growing up, would that persom find it 'easier' to listen to 5/4?

It requires less mental dexterity. Thinking in off kilter time signatures can require the use of multiple threads of thought - as with singing and playing (drums, guitar, etc.). It's just a more complicated strand to understand.

I'd imagine that, mathematically, it's not much different from why it's easier to add/multiply/divide even numbers than it is odd or decimals.
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#33
Quote by JayLacelle
I STRONGLY disagree.

See pink floyd, radiohead, QOTSA, and Foo fighters. All mainstream acts with unusual time signature songs making the charts.


Yeah, but for every song you name that has 'weird' signature that has made the charts, i can name 1000 that have 'normal' signature
#34
Quote by Hak0
Yeah, but for every song you name that has 'weird' signature that has made the charts, i can name 1000 that have 'normal' signature

Isn't that reflective of the general consensus of Western music?
The UG Awards exist only to instill me with existential doubt.


For me, the 60's ended that day in 1978...

Willies. Fuck the lick and fuck you too.
#36
Quote by Hak0
[edit:] to necrosis ^ Yes, but 99.9% of songs in the top charts are 3/4 or 4/4


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey_(Yngwie_J._Malmsteen_album)

Got into top 50. A fucking Malmsteen album, that's pure wankery even if I do enjoy him on occasion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Clouds_%26_Silver_Linings

#6. I don't even need to say anything other than "Dream Theater", and we both know that it'll use more weird time signatures than seventeen other albums put together.

I'm not denying that 4/4 is much more common, as it's what most surviving work songs African slaves used to keep time for efficiency, which became blues, which became rock, which became the source of most modern music, uses. But what I am saying is that 99.9% is an overexaggeration.

Quote by L2112Lif
Money's in 5/4.


7/4-4/4 actually, my apologies, though that's still a bizarre time signature.
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#37
Quote by L2112Lif
One of the riff's is 7/8, but Rush still isn't really considered mainstream...


Rush has sold more than 40 million records worldwide and garnered untold legions of devoted and admiring fans. According to the RIAA, Rush's sales statistics place RUSH third after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band.


Really now.
#38
Quote by Hak0
Yes, yes, i get what you're saying: that 'normal' time signatures are easier to follow and dance to, but WHY? Is it a human principle that we're born with or is it something we learn when we grow up and listen to music? If you only played music in 5/4 to a baby when it was growing up, would that persom find it 'easier' to listen to 5/4?


Because 4/4 is LITERALLY based off of walking... March is 2/4 (Which is double-time 4/4 for those of you who didn't take theory), and 4/4 is just a derivation. (Well, historically speaking 2/4 is a derivation of 4/4, march having come after classical (Turkish march came before Western Classical though (But Baroque was first, and still used 4/4))) And 3/4 was thought to be holy in Baroque times.
#39

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