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Hello everybody.
I am not a noob at musical theory, but recently I have been getting into alot of rhythmic ideas and I just had a question that I would like to ask in reference to an idea of rhythm i have had.

Below i am going to list out a bar.
in case you don't know s=sixteenth notes

``````
|4-| |-5-| |4-| |-5-|
ssss sssss ssss ssss``````

this bas is a group of 4 regular sixteenths, 5 quintuplets, 4 sixteenths, 4 quintuplets, which makes the bar 1/5 shorter than 4/4.

This post has been changed because my original idea was 19/16, but this new phrasing makes it impossible to be in a regular time signature.

I feel below is how it would be written.
``````
19 |4-|       |4-|
20 ssss sssss ssss ssss``````

Wondering if anybody could prove that wrong.
Last edited by LucasGtrGod at Sep 11, 2007,
It's rather difficult to call anything in time signatures x/5. I would call it 19/16, with a 5 notes-5 notes-5 notes-4 notes pulse. This is assuming that this is all you have in a measure. It's actually been done before. If I'm not mistaken, there are parts in Desert Girl by Planet X in 15/16.

EDIT: In fact, I don't think you can have time signatures that aren't powers of 2 (x/2, x/4, x/8, etc.). I've never seen it and I would have no idea how to count them.
Quote by Mazzakazza
Play Meshuggah. It is the solution.
righto. thanks for that, but I honestly don't see why it is not possible to have time signatures that aren't in powers of two, other than the reason of pre-established theory. I can see how you would call the previous bar as 19/16, but lets say instead of it being constant pentuplets you changed the divisions.

eg

|-4-| |--5--| |-4-| |-5-|
ssss sssss ssss ssss

That is a group of 4 regular sixteenths, 5 pentuplets, 4 sixteenths, 4 pentuplets.

lol work it out for me because i am tired.

My theory is that if you get to a certain point regular powers of two cannot describe the rhythm. I'll gladly have somebody prove me wrong, though.
then you'd have to be notating the difference every time it changes
and you'd just have regular 4/4
First of all, they're called quintuplets.

And are you saying that they're actually quintuplets (five notes in the space of four sixteenth notes), or just five sixteenth notes?
ah, quintuplets, thankyou.

I am saying that they are quintuplets. the pattern is 4 sixteenth notes, 5 quintuplets, 4 sixteenth notes, and then 4 (instead of the regular five) quintuplets, which makes the bar one quintuplet shorter than 4/4.
Right. Okay then...

I don't know how you would count that, because it would be a liiiiittle little less than 4/4, but more than 15/16.

Maybe make it a bar of 3/4 then make those four quintuplets a slightly-sped-up bar of 1/4? (you know, like make them just four sixteenth notes but at a faster tempo?)

That's all I can come up with.
lol yeah fair enough man. I was just curious, i'm pretty sure it could be figured out if you wanted to start dividing by huge fractions, and i am currently too tired.

Basically I was just trying to bring the idea forward that bars do not have to be divisible by a power of 2.
I dunno if someone can disprove my theory, then I would be grateful for the enlightenment.
No, there's no reason they haaave to be. It would just be strange.

Wait, I think I've got it!

20 quintuplets to a bar.

16 sixteenths.

LCD = 80. (16 x 5) and (20 X 4)

So each quintuplet would be 4/80 and each sixteenth would be 5/80.

So you have (4 * 5/80) + (5 * 4/80) + (4 * 5/80) + (4 * 4/80)

=

76/80?!

EDIT: Which equals 19/20!!!!!
Last edited by I floss daily at Sep 11, 2007,
notation is there to make life easier, not harder. I'd almost definitely just write a change in time signature for when it switches to 4 beats per measure, then a change back.
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But it's never four beats in a measure...

If you would have read carefully, you'd realize that, and you'd also see that my first suggestion was to split it into two different measures. But then you'd have to change the tempo.
Quote by LucasGtrGod
My theory is that if you get to a certain point regular powers of two cannot describe the rhythm. I'll gladly have somebody prove me wrong, though.

This seems pretty clear to me, though perhaps people would disagree. I agree with utahotc that it should be 19/16.
(Slightly outdated) Electronic and classical compositions by m'self: Check 'em out
Is the 4 played in the same amount of time as the 5 or vice versa? Quintuplets means five notes of a value in the space of four of the usual value I think. Like triplets aren't a set of 3 notes, but 3 notes played in the space of 2.
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[pulls out his book Music Theory For Dummies] well, to me it looks like it'd be some kind of asymmetrical time signature. other than that, I have no idea.
Psychodelia and sinan, they're quintuplets, not just a set of five sixteenth notes.
By beaming them in groups of five, the idea is that there are five notes to a beat, except for the last group of four. It works out to the same thing.
(Slightly outdated) Electronic and classical compositions by m'self: Check 'em out
but the last group of four is four quintuplets, not four sixteenths.
Quote by I floss daily
but the last group of four is four quintuplets, not four sixteenths.

its four sixteenths

and the groups before that are of five sixteenths

"TIME SIGNATURES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY"

quintuplets are playing 5 notes in the duration you'd normally playing 4 notes in

if you're switching between 16th note quintuplets and straight 16th notes you're in 4/4

if you've got five 16th notes to the first 3 beats and then four 16ths on the last beat, then you've got an irregular/asymmetric/****ed up time signature and you'd probably be in 19/16 like mentioned
Last edited by seljer at Sep 11, 2007,
Quote by I floss daily
but the last group of four is four quintuplets, not four sixteenths.

Let's break it down. In the original example, we have 3 and 4/5 quintuplets. This means our last beat is worth 4/5 of the other three.

In my example, I have three beats that are divided evenly into 5. The last beat is 4/5 the duration of the other beats, so it has essentially dropped the final quintuplet piece.
(Slightly outdated) Electronic and classical compositions by m'self: Check 'em out
Um no it wouldn't work, because in my second example the quintuplets are played faster than the regular sixteenths. In my example the quintuplets is not a group of five sixteenths as you seem to think, it is group of 5 notes that are divisibal in terms of time by only 5.
So basically the bar is 1/5 shorter than 4/4, which would make it 19/20. It is an assymetric time signature and sounds really cool too lol.

and because the bar is now divisible by five, what would usually be called quintuplets are now the average sub division and it is the regular sixteenths that now must be grouped. so it might look something like this.

(i know that using sixteenths would now seem null, but because there is currently no other way then i will have to.)

``````
19 |4-|       |4-|
20 ssss sssss ssss ssss``````

Not sure if i confused anybody in my rant there.
Last edited by LucasGtrGod at Sep 11, 2007,
err, write out what you mean in notepad
then copy and paste it into here and use the tags so that spaces and stuff aren't lost

edit: if I understand what you're getting at, you've got 19 notes in either case
their length can be anything, 16th notes present themselves as the simplest solution
the accented notes would still give the same asymmetric feel
writing it as /20 would be just to confuse the heck out of poor musicians
Last edited by seljer at Sep 11, 2007,
I agree with seljer, just put them in as 19/16. The non-quintuplet 16ths could be labeled with something like "4:5" to indicate that you play four notes where you would normally play five.
(Slightly outdated) Electronic and classical compositions by m'self: Check 'em out
Quote by psychodelia
I agree with seljer, just put them in as 19/16. The non-quintuplet 16ths could be labeled with something like "4:5" to indicate that you play four notes where you would normally play five.

But you don't play them in the time you'd normally play five.....

They are each the duration of a quintuplet note, not a sixteenth! (For the fiftieth time.)

LucasGtrGod, it's okay. We've figured it out. Don't listen to them.
Quote by I floss daily
But you don't play them in the time you'd normally play five.....

They are each the duration of a quintuplet note, not a sixteenth! (For the fiftieth time.)

Quote by LucasGtrGod
in my second example the quintuplets are played faster than the regular sixteenths.

The individual "16ths" are therefore not of the same duration as the quintuplet notes.

Quote by LucasGtrGod
and because the bar is now divisible by five, what would usually be called quintuplets are now the average sub division and it is the regular sixteenths that now must be grouped. so it might look something like this.

``19 |4-|       |4-|20 ssss sssss ssss ssss``

The 16ths are now grouped, because they aren't the average subdivision.

LucasGtrGod has specifically labeled the first two groups of four with a grouping, because otherwise the notes would be the same as the last group of four, which consists of quintuplet notes.
(Slightly outdated) Electronic and classical compositions by m'self: Check 'em out
What I said, basically.
Quote by I floss daily

LucasGtrGod, it's okay. We've figured it out. Don't listen to them.

Don't ever say that to musicians. In my opinion it's rude.

On topic, now, you can honestly call it whatever the hell you want so long as it is readable and playable. I could play something in alternating 9/8 7/8. Guess what else it is? 4/4. Why? Do the math. I call it 19/16, you call it 76/80 or whatever.

Sorry if I seem angry. It just seems a simple thing to be an ass over.

EDIT: Looking over this, I sound like a pompous jerk. My apologies. But I still stand by my view.
Quote by Mazzakazza
Play Meshuggah. It is the solution.
Last edited by utahotc at Sep 12, 2007,
lol, it is cool. I see what you are getting at, and i see people's points, I didn't think it would create such a heated debate.

I agree that it technically is 19/20, but I also see the point that ofr the musician's sake it can be written to a time signature with a denominator to the power of 2. but i think by doing that you pretty much have to take away the concept of representing the tempo with an exact bpm, because if you were to move to that time signature from something like 4/4, the phrasing needed to represent the quintuplets as the average division would automatically yield the new bar as feeling that tiny bit slower...

and it's not like you can say in the tempo marker for that bar Q+s=130...
or could you?

so yeah...
Hey everyone, as far as I'm aware, and I'm BLOODY sure of this, you can't have a denominator of anything other than standard length notes.
What I mean is, the time signatures has to be:
x/2, x/4, x/8, x/16, x/32, etc.
It has to double each time, starting at 2, if you get me.
You can have 19/16, but not 19/20.

As well as this, the guy who said something like "4:5" is right.

If you had 19/16, each note is the same length.
You cannot hae a bar that's missing one quintuplet, the denominator doesn't work.
I suggest you give up one having a 4/4 bar with one fifth of a sixteenth note missing....
That's a little stupid.
Try something like:

........|---5---|.................
ssss sssss ssss ssss

Or make it a 15/16 bar, or 17/16 if you want it to sound forced, and ****.

But do NOT defy the laws of theory!
But seriously, don't, because it's pointless.
You, and only you, will be able to play the song.
Then what's the point of writing it down?

Hope I've helped.

Cheers -
Daisy
Gore AND Core; unite!
Last edited by Daisy_Ramirez_ at Sep 12, 2007,
well that is just counter innovative, why should I just not play a riff because nobody else can comprehend the very real possibility that a bar can be one quintuplet shorter than normal. If you can learn how to easily change between quintuplets and regular sixteenths you should be able to do it. What is so silly about that?
If it is mathematically possible, then it is musically possible...because all music theory is based on geometry.
It is just traditionalism that tells you that you cannot do this.

And on another note 15/16 and 17/16 sound cool.
Quote by LucasGtrGod
well that is just counter innovative, why should I just not play a riff because nobody else can comprehend the very real possibility that a bar can be one quintuplet shorter than normal. If you can learn how to easily change between quintuplets and regular sixteenths you should be able to do it. What is so silly about that?
If it is mathematically possible, then it is musically possible...because all music theory is based on geometry.
It is just traditionalism that tells you that you cannot do this.

And on another note 15/16 and 17/16 sound cool.

MOTHER****ING ****!

I've typed out three posts, over 5000 characters, HUGE, Cas-sized posts, and IE crashes everytime I try to post.

I'm so angry.

And, I copied the lt one in case it did it again, and checked that I had it copied, and it crashed, and then it was not copied anymore, I was like WTF!

Don't take any of this as an attack on you btw (my previous posts, I mean), I think 15/16 & 17/16 sound great too, they can sound forced though.

Anyway, the reason you can't have a denominator other than that of a power of 2 is because signatures are for counting.

That's why we have 12/8 AND 3/4.

If you have a note that isn't a normal length as the denominator, how the hell are you supposed to play that?

If I set a metronome @ 100 bpm, and said, "play me a solo in 20th notes", could you?

Then, if I said 8th notes, you could.

Exactly.

It's just pointless.

Plus, IMO, having one quintuplet shy of 4/4 would just sound bad, it'd sound out of time.
It's just that little bit off, not enough to be noticable as an odd time signature, just enough to sound out of time.

IMO, though.

I'd like to hear it, I'm interested now!

And if this does not post, I will SERIOUSLY send my blood, semen and urine in a package to Bill Gates & Zappp. I'm 100% percent serious.

The other posts were maybe 1/10 of this post, if that.

Anyway, I'm curious to hear your work!

Cheers -
Daisy
Gore AND Core; unite!
well really how do you count quintuplets anyway. You just sort of have to feel for them.
I mean the reason we can count in powers of 2 so easily is because that's how we have learned it, i think with a bit of practice a person could learn to count in what wikipedia describes as "irrational time signatures" as easy as the would in any other time signature.
but i guess i would probably count a 20/20 (4/4 made of four groups of five) bar as 1 2345 2 2345 3 2345 4 2345

So if i were to count it as a bar of 19/20 using my previous example, i think i would count it 1 e and a, 2 2345, 1 e and a, 4 234.

Oh and if you want to hear an example of how a bar like this could sound, just go to guitar pro or something similar and create the time signature 19/16 and accent every 5 sixteenth notes, and then there will be four sixteenth notes left at the end. while this is not technically shorter by a quintuplet it will feel like it.

Also there are bands that have bars of 31/32, now that is an even smaller division than that of 1/5, so really it's not that small a gap.

Basically the reason i created the harder rhythm was for the sake of argument.

Well off i go now attempting to practice this thing in hope of recording it and seeing if it really does sound **** lol.
Last edited by LucasGtrGod at Sep 12, 2007,
What I meant was, it's a quintuplet's distance from 4/4, not just a small distance.
A quintuplet isn't a 'proper' note per se.
Where as a 32nd is, if ya get me?
Gore AND Core; unite!
First of all, the fact remains that the only way to count his example correctly would be 19/20, regardless of the fact that's it's an irrational time signature. It's all about feel anyway. It wouldn't be that hard to play four sixteenths, a set of quints, another four sixteenths, and then to start playing a set of quints and just be like "HA! only four!" and jump to the next measure.

Not to be rude, Daisy, but saying "Do NOT defy the rules of theory" is the biggest load of garbage I've ever heard. If he wants something to be in 19/20 or in 247/17, he can damn well do what he pleases.
My last words and I'm stepping off. This is Musician Talk, not Musician Kombat .

The reason why a lot of us say 19/16 is because that's what we know. It's a set standard we have been going by for years. Pardon me, centuries. No one has to follow the rules of theory, hence why it's called theory . But the reason why it exists is because it makes sense to most minds. If I played a swing vamp in 4/4, someone can instantly recognize it as a rhythm. But if I start playing something in 19/20, as you call it, the average person throws his cd player out because it sounds like it's skipping.

There are bands that write in very strange and complex time signatures. Anyone heard Dance of Eternity by Dream Theater? I have seen the sheets for it, and I can say, as absolutely insane and illogical as that song is (doesn't make it any less awesome) never, EVER, did I see a time sig that did not have a power of 2 in the bottom. It's the way how music NATURALLY works!

Congratulations. You've invented a subgenre of math rock called calculus rock.

I'm also now late for Computer Science.
Quote by Mazzakazza
Play Meshuggah. It is the solution.
Here is why you will never see a time signature with a number other than a power of 2 on the bottom: There is more than enough scope for any unusual and irregular rhythm in "ordinary" notation.

In your first post you refer to them as sixteenths, then go about explaining some way to make the bar 1/5 of a beat shy of 4/4 time, hence a 20 base time signature. Not possible, they will always be sixteenth notes, whatever multiple the top number is. Have you heard the riddle of the frog on the table, who always jumps half the length of his previous jump? This is a good analogy for rhythm subdivision; the frog will never jump off the table, but with each jump it gets closer to the edge but as it nears the edge the jumps are so small that you would barely know it is moving - if you really need to define a smaller fraction of a beat, go to the next power of two, i.e. 32nds or 64ths but unless you are playing at 20bpm anything further would be ridiculous.

The most logical way I can think to notate the rhythm you describe is in 19/16 using 3 groups of 5 sixteenths and one group of 4, using "quadruplets" to play the first 4 sixteenths, then a regular group of 5, followed by another quadruplet and then the last 4 sixteenths bringing the total to 19/16. Three groups of 5 and one of 4, with quadruplets giving a simple time feel to whichever of the five groups you choose, gives you a feeling of 4/4 less one fifth of a beat. Problem solved!

Try as you might, theory has been around a lot longer than you and me and rest assured, it has been thought of before.
Yeah, but you can't achieve 1/5 of a beat by dividing by two a bunch of times.

And if he wants to play in 19/20, let him for Chrissakes! It's not wrong, it's just unorthodox.

and as for you method of playing it in 19/16, it would sound pretty close, but wouldn't be the same thing.
It is exactly the same thing. You have 19 beats divided into 3 groups of 5 and one of 4. They are denoted as 16th notes, so the time is 19/16. Instead of writing the sets of 5 notes as quintuplets and "omitting one of them" you write the sets of 4 notes as quadruplets and you omit an ordinary 16th note from the bar. This 16th note, being the last note of what would be 20/16, is in fact, one fifth of a beat.

It may be unorthodox, I'm not going to argue that it's wrong, per se, but it can be achieved in a more orthodox way, as is generally the case.
Last edited by Doc5678 at Sep 12, 2007,
In other words, a quadruplet followed by the five notes it is played in the time of would be identical to four notes followed by a quintuplet. Five notes in the space of four, versus four notes in the space of five, it's just a more sensible way to write it in musical notation.
Sorry to punctuate your discussion with such sillyness, but how do you count a quintuplet (which I assume means 5 notes in the space of 4, correct me if I'm wrong)? Just in standard 4/4 time.
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Quote by Doc5678
In other words, a quadruplet followed by the five notes it is played in the time of would be identical to four notes followed by a quintuplet. Five notes in the space of four, versus four notes in the space of five, it's just a more sensible way to write it in musical notation.

Yeah, but the last four notes aren't just four sixteenths, they're four quintuplets.

And to Instrumetal, I usually count them 123 45 or 12 345.