#1
I understand the basic concept here, but I'm having difficulty actually putting it into practice. Whenever I try to hear the time in a song, I'm unsure when I should stop counting (How do I tell how long the measure is supposed to be?), what I even should be counting, and which instrument I should be paying the most attention to (I'd assume the drums?) if any particular one.

I was trying to use the Incubus song "Make Yourself" as practice because the wikipedia article on Time Signatures specifically mentions it as having "7/4 followed by two bars of 4/4," but I still couldn't hear it. If anyone would be so kind as to explain what I should be listening to in that song to catch that in terms of the tab, I would be very grateful. (Youtube vid of the song.)

Also, if there are any good songs to listen to that would help me get a feel for the whole thing, I would be immensely happy if anybody could post them and what their time signature was so I could try to get a grip on this whole thing.

Thanks.
Last edited by xVSxNightmare at Oct 27, 2008,
#2
an easy one to pick out is vicarious by tool. its 5/4, you should be able to hear it pretty easily
#3
Yeah, just listen to the drums, get a good feel of it, and just try. Sometimes it's trial and error, but you'll eventually get it.
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#4
Here's a good example I think:

John Petrucci - "Damage Control"

Right at the start, from 0:04 - 0:10. The first 3 seconds are in 4/4, then the next 3 seconds are in 7/8. I think you can really hear it there. Even when there aren't drums, you can just "feel" the time signature.
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#5
Ick, I don't feel that I'm a natural at this whole time thing. Of everything music, I feel that this is gonna be one of my hardest uphill battles. Thanks for the help guys, I'm gonna keep working until I get the feel for it.

All additional help appreciated (And, quite frankly, probably needed!).
#6
I think that you should probably begin with an easier song, such as one in 4/4. 7/8 is rather complicated for someone trying to learn. I know everyone is probably sick and tired of the song, but Crazy Train offers an easy window of opportunity when it comes to figuring technical things out. You might find help in learning it because it seems to have a pretty definate beat. In a 4/4 song, there are 4 beats per measure. The first beat is accented in most songs, so that might help you as well.
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#7
Quote by xVSxNightmare

Whenever I try to hear the time in a song, I'm unsure when I should stop counting (How do I tell how long the measure is supposed to be?),


Actually, you dont know how long the measure is supposed to be if you dont have
the sheet music. I mean why couldnt the whole song be in one measure right?
Indian music for example often has measures of 28 counts. So at first counting seems useless, but there's one thing that measures share: different or the same harmony and melody. That's how you can tell a song is changing measures, because most of the time a new measure is a chance for new instruments to start playing, change of mood, change of motifs etc. If a motif is repeated after 4 beats, you almost know
for sure the measure is 4 beats long and not 5. Some bands like to experiment
with polyrithmics. That can be quite confusing, but -used properly- can sound very
cool: 5/4 from the Gorillaz for example uses a 5 beat guitarriff over a 4 beat drum.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGwAdlS1cj0&feature=related

Quote by xVSxNightmare

what I even should be counting, and which instrument I should be paying the most attention to (I'd assume the drums?) if any particular one.


As mentioned before, you should count the beats or the emphases in the song.
That can be a snaredrum, bassdrum etc. It's hard to explain what exactly a beat is:
let's put it like this, if you start dancing you want to move on the beat right?

Quote by xVSxNightmare

Also, if there are any good songs to listen to that would help me get a feel for the whole thing, I would be immensely happy if anybody could post them and what their time signature was so I could try to get a grip on this whole thing.


Golden Brown - Stranglers
Las Vegas Dealer - Gomez
Tubular Bells - Mike Oldfield
Money - Pink Floyd
Sound of Muzak - Porcupine Tree
Go to sleep - Radiohead

See if you can figure those out.
#8
Try simple time signatures first, because if you can't recognise 4/4 then you'll have no chance doing 7/4.

Just listen to some of your favourite songs and try and work out what time signature they have, it will most likely be 4/4, 3/4, 2/4 or maybe 6/8 or 3/8.

Once you can do most songs you can then move on to odd time signatures like 7/4. The use of knowing these time signatures is limited though because so much music is in basic time signatures. Also, good songs don't have to have complex time signatures, you can still write great music in 4/4.

Also, do you know the difference between simple and compund time?

And to the guy above me, you can tell how long a measure is by listening. The first beat of the bar is the strongest so you can just listen out for whenever you hear the strongest beat and that is one bar. Some of the chalenge comes from working out if it is 2/2 or 4/4 or 12/8.
#9
Quote by 12345abcd3

And to the guy above me, you can tell how long a measure is by listening. The first beat of the bar is the strongest so you can just listen out for whenever you hear the strongest beat and that is one bar.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8AyesPD9qM

Enough strong beats, but you really have to listen to the melody in the background
to figure out the measure, like 9 counts. Especially after 30 seconds plenty of 'strong
beats' are not on the first count. Im just trying to say that you have to listen to
the music more than drums. The drums are supporting the music, not the other way
around.

I wanted to explain the concept of measures a bit cause saying to the guy:
'you have to listen' doesnt seem any help at all.
#10
Quote by deHufter
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8AyesPD9qM

Enough strong beats, but you really have to listen to the melody in the background
to figure out the measure, like 9 counts. Especially after 30 seconds plenty of 'strong
beats' are not on the first count. Im just trying to say that you have to listen to
the music more than drums. The drums are supporting the music, not the other way
around.

I wanted to explain the concept of measures a bit cause saying to the guy:
'you have to listen' doesnt seem any help at all.

We are genrally talking about western time signatures here so a hindi song isn't a great example. Also, I said the strongest beat not just any strong beat. In general, the strongest beat of a bar is the first so if you listen out for the strongest beat you can tell when the bars start.

And beats are not limited to drums. If you gave a professional violinist a piece in 4/4 which consisted only of crotchets then he would accent the first note in the bar the most - this being the strongest beat - then he would also accent the third note. Beats can, and should, be played on all instruments through accenting the notes.
#11
If you're trying to get a feel for the different time signatures, playing (or even composing your own) pieces written in them may be more effective than listening for them in songs.
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#12
Quote by Isidora
If you're trying to get a feel for the different time signatures, playing (or even composing your own) pieces written in them may be more effective than listening for them in songs.

I agree. I didn't really understand them either before I started attempting to write songs in different time signatures. Now I listen for them and use them all the time.