#1
As we all know, popular music is dominated by the 4/4 time signature, so for many (including me) playing in a different time signature doesn't come naturally. No matter if I have a 4/4 back track or not, I always play in 4/4. However, I am currently working on a song that's in 5/4 and am finding it extremely difficult to count correctly and stay in time. Any tips for how I could get in this rhythm quickly or does it just come with experience?
#2
5/4 is usually either (3+2)/4 or (2+3)/4. So you could think it as alternating between 2/4 and 3/4. Many 5/4 songs have a specific rhythm that repeats throughout the song, and when you focus on that rhythm, it actually feels quite natural.





In Mission Impossible theme you could actually count to four instead of five - you would just have two longer beats (dotted quarter notes) and two shorter beats (quarter notes) in a bar. You could also see it as alternating between 6/8 and 2/4.


What is the song that you are trying to learn to play?
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#3
Here's another example. I hear this as two groups of 5 (eighth notes), one starting on the beat and one starting off it. You could also hear it as 4 + 4 + 2 , but I think that's harder.

#5
I think it's important that you are clear what you mean here. In your original post you say "any tips on how I can get in this rhythm quickly...". Remember, 5/4 isn't a rhythm, it's a time signature. The rhythm would be what you play within that time signature, therefore there are infinite possibilities.

It might be worth listening to artists that uses irregular time signatures on their compositions to get a feel for how they go about it. You don't want it to sound too contrived and I'm sure that when a band goes your to write something, they don't necessarily start by saying "hey let's write something in 11/8". I think they would have a bit more of a natural approach to it. The best songs that use irregular time signatures are those that don't sound forced. I don't know what style of music you are interested in writing, but there are plenty of interesting rock songs written by bands such as Tool, Oceansize, Biffy Clyro and Soundgarden that use irregular time signatures. Have a listen to some of their work and see what you can hear. If you like the idea of 5/4 for instance, Lateralus by Tool uses this in the verse sections.
Last edited by Majicmanmaj at Mar 31, 2017,
#6
Quote by electroguitar7
As we all know, popular music is dominated by the 4/4 time signature, so for many (including me) playing in a different time signature doesn't come naturally. No matter if I have a 4/4 back track or not, I always play in 4/4. However, I am currently working on a song that's in 5/4 and am finding it extremely difficult to count correctly and stay in time. Any tips for how I could get in this rhythm quickly or does it just come with experience?


There is only one trick - learn actual songs that use 5/4 or other time signatures. Dream Theater and Tool are examples of bands who do this, as do most prog bands.

Take five, posted above, is the most popular example for sure.
#8
The only way to kind of feel normal in odd-time signatures is internalizing them and making them feel normal. So in essence, just practice the hell out of 5/4. For more information, here's Adam Neely:

#10
I think that getting a couple of odd time signature songs in your head might do
I find my self using the time signatures of song's I like when trying to come up with something
#11
Robert Callus, my concern about GP is that it seems glued to quarter notes as a rule (12/8 at 100 bpm in normal terms (based on dotted quarter notes) would be written as 150 bpm based on quarter notes instead). I'm not sure if it translates this tendency to 3/8, 6/8, etc. or the metronome function, but there are definitely things to caution about

OP, there are just things to get used to/continually practice, and complex time signatures are one of them. Play slowly until you get the flow of the time signature and the song, and then speed up gradually
#12
NeoMvsEu
Yeah, but 5/4 would certainly work, and 12/8 or 6/8 are not really odd so I don't think that's something the OP would have problems with.
Guitar Pro 6 does allow you to set the tempo in terms of dotted quarter notes, it's only lower versions that don't. Of course if you have GP5 - you know what I'm going to say, don't you? - you can always write it in 4/4 with triplets instead of 12/8.
And, ha, I just tried the metronome with a 12/8 time signature in GP5, the metronome clicks on every eighth note, not very helpful! Again, another reason you should write in 4/4 with triplets
#13
Quote by NeoMvsEu
Robert Callus, my concern about GP is that it seems glued to quarter notes as a rule (12/8 at 100 bpm in normal terms (based on dotted quarter notes) would be written as 150 bpm based on quarter notes instead). I'm not sure if it translates this tendency to 3/8, 6/8, etc. or the metronome function, but there are definitely things to caution about

OP, there are just things to get used to/continually practice, and complex time signatures are one of them. Play slowly until you get the flow of the time signature and the song, and then speed up gradually

GP may be a bit limited. I don't use odd time signatures that much but I recall using 5/4 for sure on GP

Another software (which is free to download and use) is Musescore. It's more classical music oriented and doesn't use tabs. However for rhythms you don't need to know the notes. You can just type one note and keep repeating it in different rhythms and time signatures.

My point is to listen to listen to these rhythms in different time signatures on some kind of music software, with the program's metronome on. I believe it helped my ear a lot.
#14
My main tip for getting accustomed to odd time sig playing is to make sure to have a steady foot tap that works on backbeats. Tap your quavers, and start playing something with an odd number of semi-quavers so that your foot ends up on the backbeat every other bar.

Then just make your playing more complex with rests, dotted notes and triplets etc. For me this was a good way to learn to keep time even if that time was not 4/4.
#15
I wrote a 5/4 song recently by sheer accident.  Study drumming, that's what helped me.  I looked for 5/4 drum lessons on Youtube and it's a ton easier than trying to figure it out on guitar.  Now I find it fairly easy.
#16
In all honesty, I don't think I ever count when playing in a different time signature. I just get used to the sound of the rhythm or riff etc. It sounds easier said than done but, then again, my opinion has always been that if it isn't memorable then it's probably not worth writing.

Don't write in alternative time signatures for the sake of it, as it were. If it's too much hard work then it's probably because it's not that catchy.
#17
I was once gifted a very nice metronome (Planet Waves I believe) and it allows you to choose the time signature on it, so that's been extraordinarily helpful as I've started to write in different time signatures.

It helped give me the pulse and I could catch myself when I missed the downbeat. Also, anytime spent with a metronome is time well spent in my book.

I'd also like to say, exploring different time signatures, even if "just for the sake of doing it" is an excellent way to expand yourself and push yourself as a musician. Kudos!
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Last edited by telecastrmastr at Apr 15, 2017,
#18
Joeseye

İ like what your saying except for "don't write". How else can you get good at something if you don't practice it?

But if it's not memorable then it might be best to keep the riffs logged in your notes instead of dragging band mates around to learn lame music.
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#19
Panasonic3 Ah, I probably should have made it clearer.

What I mean is don't feel bound to a particular time signature if it's not working for you in terms of writing. By all means practise with different time signatures though.

I know quite a few folks who literally subscribe to: "I'm going to write a prog song in 13/8 and wedge my ideas into it", who then wonder why it's difficult to play or doesn't sound very good. It's rigid thinking.

It doesn't work for everyone, but I tend to write something interesting and natural sounding and then find out what time signature is, rather than starting with the time signature.
Last edited by Joeseye at Apr 16, 2017,