Hello! I have been looking at the time signatures of Between the Buried and Me's Ectopic Stroll. The beginning time signatures switch between 4/4 and 7/8 at 110 bpm. Now I noticed that if I counted to seven during the 7/8 sections at the same pace as I counted to 4 during the 4/4 sections I would end up all over the place (beat wise I mean) and this is very frustrating haha. If someone could hopefully shed some light on this I would greatly appreciate it!
If it's 4/4 and 7/8 then you have to count to 7 at double the pace you'd count to 4. Counting in eighth notes, twice the speed of quarters.
Alternatively, it may be easier to count 3 and a half beats for the 7/8 bars.
e.g. a bar of 4/4 followed by a bar of 7/8, then back to 4/4 :

| 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and | 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 | 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and |
NSpen1 Thanks for the reply! The song actually begins in 7/8 (if that changes anything). What i don't understand is, normally wouldn't i just count out a 7/8 1-2-3-4-5-6-7? Why does it double for this song?  Wouldn't 8th notes only double if it was being sub divided FROM a time signature such as 4/4? I'm sure this is all pretty basic music theory but i'm still grasping it and some stuff questions just burn inside me when i get them.
ok, listened to it. So it alternates 7/8, 4/4, 7/8, 4/4
But you see if you count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 for the 7/8 bar, then you have to count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 for the 4/4 bar or else count 1-2-3-4 at half the speed.
The way I would count it is in quarter notes but for the 7/8 bars on beat four you only have half a beat, so you have to quickly go to beat one of the 4/4 bars.
| 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 | 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + | 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 | 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + |

Half a beat only, quickly 'skip' to next bar.
Then that hopefully is not too hard to follow.
The way I would count the rhythm is "one and two and three and a | one and two and three and four and"

The 7/8 bar basically has three main beats in it - the third beat is just one eight longer than the other two. You can divide any rhythm in groups of two or three (or sometimes four, but that can also be divided in two groups of two), and I think this is what you should do in more complex time signatures.

This is the most obvious example. It's in 5/4 but the bar has only four main beats in it. The first two beats are dotted quarters and the last two are quarter notes. You would count "one and a two and a three and four and".

Instead of counting like "one and a", etc, you could use different words for groups of three and two. I think "banana" is a good word for counting in groups of three. (In Finnish we usually use "piirakka" that means "pie" for groups of three and "pulla" that means "baked roll" for groups of two. The point is, you may want to use a word that has two syllables in it to count in groups of two and a word that has three syllables in it to count in groups of three.)

"Banana banana banana terracotta banana terracotta terracotta pie" is a great example of a rhythm that is divided in groups of three and four 16th notes, and that's really the best way of understanding it. What is the time signature here? I don't think it really mattes, as long as you remember when to switch from groups of three to groups of four 16ths (and that is done simply by memorizing the lyrics - the rhythm would be much harder to memorize without the lyrics). I would say the time signature is 13/16 + 15/16, but how those time signatures are divided is much more important than the time signatures themselves (you wouldn't count in 13 or 15 in those bars because that would be really difficult, instead I would suggest just counting in four in those bars and alternating between groups of three and four 16th notes - the length of a beat doesn't need to stay the same all the time). The 13/16 bar would be 3 + 3 + 3 + 4 and the 15/16 bar would be 3 + 4 + 4 + 4.
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NSpen1 Thanks for the reply! The song actually begins in 7/8 (if that changes anything). What i don't understand is, normally wouldn't i just count out a 7/8 1-2-3-4-5-6-7? Why does it double for this song?  Wouldn't 8th notes only double if it was being sub divided FROM a time signature such as 4/4?
Something like that.
If there were 7 beats in the bar, it would be 7/4. Then you'd be counting at the same speed as the beats in the 4/4 bar.
But as the others say, 7/8 is really three and a half beats. The feel is "one and two and three and a". Here's some comparative examples:

You could count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 to that, but it would feel too fast; the actual pulse is half that. The bass is playing the beats (two short ones and one long one, 2+2+3).

Two examples of 7/4:

I'd count 1 a 2 a 1 2 3 (arbitrarily, easier to say a schwa than "and") or 1 2 1 2 1 2 3 for 7/8 and 1 a 2 a 3 a 4 a for 4/4
(the 1's are accented)

also this part between the intro and first verse

(X = on the 1, relatively strong beat; / = off-beat)
it makes less sense thinking of this specific part ^ in 7/8, as the pulses are coming twice as fast.
Quote by dfhwze
The pulse in 4/4+7/8 would be
x-x-x-x- | x--x-x- |
No, not necessarily. Odd groupings can be played in multiple ways. 2 + 2 + 3 is what the song suggests. There's also 2 + 3 + 2 and (like you wrote) 3 + 2 + 2
The choice of note value on a time signature is as much to do with notational convenience, and ease of reading, as anything else.

When you listen a to piece of music, each point in time where you want to tap your foot (or dance ...) is the beat (aka tactus).  The duration from beat to beat can be subdivided, and so on,making a hierarchy.  Likewise, wider time periods can be built as multiples of the beat.

You can imagine this is a grid.

In the absence of any other information, the number of beats (tactii) heard  (felt) per minute gives the tempo, and all these other time periods therefore occur at divisions and multiples of where these beats occur.

So, if some one notated an identical piece of music as 11/16 and the "beat = 1/16th", or as 11/8 and the "beat = 1/8th" or as 11/4 and the "beat = 1/4", then these would all sound identical.  

But the 11/16 piece is given a beat of a 1/4, and a tempo of 100 bpm, then you'd probably feel the beat as

X - - - X - - - X - -  |  X - - - X - - - X - |    

where X is the beat you feel (where you'd tap your foot).  

You wouldn't be tapping your foot on each 1/16th note unless you want a heart attack.

If a piece has several time signatures, like 4/4 and 7/8, then chances are you'll feel the 1/4 note as the beat for all of it, but the odd number in 7/8 causes you to reset where you feel the beat as each group of 7 1/8ths go by.`

So with alternating 7/8 4/4 7/8 4/4 you'd feel something like

X - X - X - X  |  X (-) X (-) X (-) X (-)  |  X - X - X - X  |  X (-) X (-) X (-) X (-)  |
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 6, 2017,
That's exactly how I'd count/feel it for the 7/8 + 4/4 in this song.

I was thinking of that part as two bars of 7/8 initially but now I'm agreeing with you, 7/16 makes most sense. You could also think of it as a 2 + 3 + 2 pattern within the 7/16 bars.