I have started playing with a metronome some more, and it has crystalized something I think I knew, but had not really focused on. For some of the songs I've written for guitar, I naturally shift to the next chord on the upbeat/upstroke before the next measure starts.

For example, if I have a basic C | G | Am | F progression, and I normally think of this as 4/4 time because I'm self-taught, still new at this, and not familiar with unusual time signatures. So I have a strum pattern and I think of it as one chord per measure, four beats per measure, (four down, four up).

But as I'm playing, I realize I am playing 7/8 of the C, then 9/8 of the G, because I'm starting the G on the last upstroke of the prior measure. I echo this early start with the F chord as well, and with the second of other two-measure "chord-pairs" in this particular song, as my strum pattern repeats every two measures.

I'm not looking to change the way I play it, because I like how it sounds. What I want to understand is if this early chord change is just playign 4/4 with a lot of swing, or is it a whole different time signature, like 7/8 + 9/8? I could try recording some measures from my acoustic guitar onto SoundCloud if anyone thinks they need to hear what I'm talking about to give feedback, but I think maybe this is a noob timing question, since this is an area of music theory I have neglected, and I really just don't know how to talk about what I'm doing, or notate it, when I do this. And, also, I'd like to read about this kind of playing, using this kind of timing, to find other music that does it, since it seems to appeal to me.


Bernie Sanders for President!
No, it's not a change in time signature. In rhythm terminology it's called a "push". If you don't strike the strings after the 4+, it will look like a tie across the bar line in notation.
It's still just 4/4, you're just putting the emphasis on the upbeat of 4. It's just another form of syncopation, try learning more about that instead of trying to fit everything into its own time signature, it can be a really powerful tool.

It's a pretty common thing you're doing, first thing that comes to mind is Scarlet by Perihpery/Haunted Shores: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWtKpoRYJV8
Thanks, that explains it. My follow up question, then, is whether there is a simple rule in terms of how to structure the percussion/drums for this kind syncopated progression. I normally start my drums with a synth doing basic rock beat, like hi hat on the 8ths, kick on 1 & 3, snare on 2 & 4, then I mix things up and embellish to fit the strum pattern. But I don't embellish/modify the kick much. I'm wondering if I should be putting my kick on the 1 of the 1, 3 and 4-and of the 1st measure, then 3 of the 2nd measure to fit the syncopation... Without actually trying it, I'm worried it will create too much emphasis on the syncopation and kind of mess up the basic 4/4 rock timing.

Well, I can experiment with it when I find time, but I'm sort of wondering if there is a general "rule of thumb" for how musicians handle the drums when they do this syncopation, to save me a bit of time when I get around to trying stuff out.

Bernie Sanders for President!