# How to Write Progressive Metal - Parts 8-9: Odd Time Signatures and Polymeters

Learn how to use odd time signatures, both on their own, and in polymeters.

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## Step # 1 - Odd Time Signatures

Before we can construct all those fancy polymeters we're just itching to play, we have to understand why these particular prog "tropes" are so popular. There is no official way to refer to "crazy wonky time signature awesomeness." If I may attempt to sum up every term I've heard: People have said "odd," "unusual," "asymmetric," "irregular," and "complex." The words "meter" and "time signature" are also apparently interchangeable, as far as most people are concerned. For more generalized study of time signatures, head over to the Wikipedia article on Time Signatures. For our purposes, we're looking at very specific, prog-focused odd meter. Common odd time signatures used in prog include 3/4, 5/4, 7/8, 9/8, 11/8, so on and so forth. Understanding these numbers is, in actuality, extraordinarily simple. For example:**3/4**- Three-four means "three-fourths," or "three quarters." Three quarter-notes. Therefore, following our understanding of notation, there are 6 eighth-notes. 12 sixteenth-notes. Essentially, 3/4 is like chopping off one quarter note, four sixteenth notes, etc.

**5/4**- If 3/4 removes a quarter note, 5/4 adds one. Very intuitive.

**7/8**- Seven-eighths. "7 eighth-notes." 14 sixteenth-notes. 3.5 quarter-notes. Think of this like chopping off two of your last four sixteenth notes.

**9/8**- 9/8 is to 7/8 as 5/4 is to 3/4. You're replacing subtraction with addition. Instead of chopping off two of the last four sixteenth notes, you're adding two sixteenth notes, or one eighth note, onto the end of your 4/4 measure. Using this formula, you can understand literally any time signature you decide to mess around with. Fire up your Tuxguitar, and start experimenting with the altered rhythms of your riffs, interspersed among 4/4 or other time signatures. Try to really feel the effect that cutting or elongating your riffs has. A good starting point, if you're really not sure where to begin, could be to take the fourth measure of a repeating 4/4 riff and switch it to 5/4, elongating it by one degree.

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