#1
I have always played with a drummer and just threw out riffs and he put parts to them. Easy. Now i am trying to record guitar and program drums and am having a difficult time figuring out the time signatures. its seems to be bouncing between 4/4 and 6/4. Any Ideas?
#2
Impossible to say without hearing it. Can you record it for us, slowly? A quick, shoddy recording would do.

It is possible that it's bouncing between 4/4 and 6/4
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#4
The first one sounds like it bounces between pretty slow 3/4 and 4/4. Try to bop your head or pump your fist to it. Notice how after counting three beats the riff starts over, but then lasts four beats instead of three?

The second one sounds like 4/4 to me. Pay attention to the snare, there's a snare hit on beat 3 (when there isn't a fill or anything). You can easily count to four over that recording, can't you?

When you're trying to figure out the time signature, the easiest thing to do is to listen to the drums. But when you just have an isolated riff and you need to figure out how to do the drums, the way I'd approach it is to first figure out where the beats are. I'm sure you have some inner sense of rhythm that tells you when you need to pump your fist in order to stay on the beat. If the beats are even, try to figure out how many of them fit in one bar, in order to find out if it's 3/4, or 4/4,etc. If they're not even, try to count smaller subdivisions, preferably eight notes, to figure out if the riff is in 7/8 or 5/8 etc.

You could try to learn some songs with time sig changes and non-4/4 time signatures in order to familiarize yourself with them. Metronome practice always helps as well.
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#5
Kevätuhri Right on. appreciate the help. the second one i figured was 4/4. The first one is messing with me because to get the bars to match up in cubase it goes 4/4 then 6/4. I always write the guitar first then program drums to it. Thats how both of those tracks were done. When i count the beats to the first one i also come up with 4/4 and 6/4. Maybe im counting quicker than a 1/4 note and am not realizing it.
#6
If I count eight notes I get 6 and 8 -> still 3 and 4.

One thing that I can think of is that you're counting what I'm perceiving as eighth notes. That would first give you 6 and then two sets of 4. The problem with this is that it would make the whole part 6 bars long instead of four. To me it sounds like it's four bars, do you hear it as 6 bars?
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Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#7
KevätuhriNo its definitely 4 bars. I can hear the 3/4 and 4/4. I just cant get the alignment to match up in cubase with that for some reason. instead i have to set it as 4/4, 6/4, 5/4, 6/4. I think this is more of a using my daw wrong issue than an actual time signature issue. I just thought my inner clock was broken and was going with what was fitting in cubase.
#8
Quote by ckskully
4/4, 6/4, 5/4, 6/4.


Oh god

DAW's can be a pain with time sig changes. What are you using? I only speak Reaper so I can help with that if need be.

EDIT: durrrr you already said Cubase. Not really sure what's up with that, never used it.
Quote by Jet Penguin
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#9
Cubase is a weird beast but ive got it working if it i have to just use these weird TS lol.
Last edited by ckskully at Nov 28, 2016,
#10
Sometimes it can be a good thing for your sound/feel to have the drums in a different time sig. (Black dog by zeppelin is in 5/4 but drums as 4/4 for the main riff, right?) I mean 4/4, 6/4, 5/4, 6/4 still add up to the same as 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, 4/4 so you'll still sync up every now and then.
#11
Only listened to the first one, could go any way.

It's easiest for me if I think of it as:

1 bar of 4/4
1 bar of 6/4
1 bar of 4/4

Repeat the above.

Someone with better music theory could give a more technically correct answer.
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#12
The time signature of the riff on its own and the time signature with the drum beat can be different. If you for example play a 4/4 beat over a 3/4 riff, it creates a polymeter. Different parts of the riff get an emphasis on different repeats. Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" is a good example of this. The riff is basically in 3/4 (if you play it without the drum beat, or it could actually be seen as 6/8) but the drum beat is in 4/4. The time signature of your song has mostly to do with what the drums play - if the drums for example play a 4/4 beat, everybody will feel the song in 4/4. (Another good example is "Black Dog". The riff is pretty weird rhythmically but the drums play a basic 4/4 beat over it and it just works.)

But yeah, the first riff (if we ignore the drums) is alternating between 3/4 and 4/4. The most "natural" drum beat would alternate between those time signatures. But when you write a drum beat, you don't really have to care about the time signature. Just come up with something that emphasizes the beats/rhythms you want to emphasize. Your riffs still have a clear sense of pulse so that's not a problem (I have heard people write riffs that don't have any kind of a steady pulse and coming up with a drum part over those riffs is almost impossible unless you change the riff - then again, there is "Master of Puppets" with the weird in-between 5/8 and 6/8 bar).

Yeah, the time signatures you choose on Cubase don't really matter that much. BTW, if you don't want to use time signature changes, just use 7/4.


Why is it in 3/4 + 4/4? Because if you listen to the different "motifs" in the riff, that's what you get. The riff kind of repeats after 3 beats, but on the second repeat there is an added beat. The riff has two "motifs" - the first one is Eb-D and the second one is Gb-F.

The riff goes like Eb-D Eb-D Gb-F, Eb-D Eb-D Gb-F Gb-F, repeat. The ending (two last beats) changes on the second time, but otherwise it's the same thing - you have the Eb-D Eb-D in the beginning, then one beat of something else, then Eb-D Eb-D again and two beats of something else. This is why it's 3/4 + 4/4.

It may sound like 4/4 + 6/4 + 4/4 because of the drums, but if we ignore the drums, it's clearly alternating between 3/4 and 4/4.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 29, 2016,
#13
I agree with the alternating 3/4 - 4/4 interpretation, if we're hearing it at as 8th notes at a tempo of around 80 bpm. (The drum fill at the end is then 16th triplets)

The alternative is 160, with the main notes as quarters, not 8ths. Then it could be 4/4 - 2/4 - 4/4 - 4/4 (and repeat). (drum fill in 8th triplets)

Depends whether you hear it as an essentially slow-ish pulse, or as fast with the drums playing a kind of half-time feel (but still with unusually placed snare hits). Either way, the barlines should follow the phrasing of the guitar riff (or any implied chord changes), while keeping the whole thing as simple and readable as possible.

To spell out the choices as I see it (the tab line represents a D string, 4th or downtuned 6th, just for reference - I realise the fret "3" note is a highly ornamented one):
80 bpm
|3/4         |4/4            |
|1-0-1-0-4-3-|1-0-1-0-4-3-4-3|
|1   2   3   |1   2   3   4  |
.
160 bpm
|4/4            |2/4     |4/4            |               |
|1---0---1---0--|4---3---|1---0---1---0--|4---3---4---3--|
|1   2   3   4  |1   2   |1   2   3   4  |1   2   3   4  |
I also agree with MaggaraMarine that the drums don't have to follow that. It's a 7-beat (or 14-beat) riff, and most drummers would have fun dividing up their accents within that.
Last edited by jongtr at Nov 29, 2016,
#14
ckskully i write in odd time signatures quite a bit with my current project.

I find MUCH easier to set the project time signature to 1/4 in my DAW - that way it doesn't matter if you're switching from one time signature to another, the click track stays at the same tone and volume and the grid is accurate regardless of how you arrange the tune.
Last edited by reverb66 at Nov 30, 2016,
#15
I hear 4+4+6 based on the crash/bass drum grouping with the fill on 3-6 of the last measure (otherwise 4+4+2+4).