Top 10 Weirdest Odd-Time Signature Songs

artist: Misc date: 08/02/2014 category: wtf?
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Top 10 Weirdest Odd-Time Signature Songs
This week saw you guys debating about the weirdest odd-time signature song of all time. As in most cases, UG community has delivered, check out the goodies you've compiled below.

10. Gojira - "Flying Whales"

Gojira gets to kick off the list with "Flying Whales." Plenty of time signature shifts and different moods in this one, but have you checked out that guy hand-farting the song? Now that's impressive!

9. Meshuggah - "Marrow"

Masters of weird time signatures continue the rundown. Plenty to choose from here, but you guys opted for this gem off 2012's "Koloss."

8. Nine Inch Nails - "March of the Pigs"

Alternating three bars of 7/8 time with one bar of 8/8 time, resulting in a 29/8 time signature, the lead single from NIN's classic 1994 album "The Downward Spiral" is up next. Apart from an odd time signature, the track features a not-so-traditional BPM rate of 269.

7. The Dillinger Escape Plan - "43% Burnt"

Embodying the term hectic, odd time signatures come as one of staple concepts for Dillinger Escape Plan. As you guys noted, "There are a number of tabs on this site and EVERY one of them is incorrect." Sounds like a challenge for all the UG tab masters out there.

6. King Crimson - "Discipline"

One of the first bands in history to embrace complexity (and give birth to prog rock along the way), King Crimson, is up next with "Discipline." Band delivered quite a few odd-timed tracks during the '80s, and "Discipline" is not a bad choice at all to encompass them. Here's a nice quote from Wikipedia for a better understanding of the tune:

"During the piece the two guitars of Belew and Fripp, respectively, move through the following sequence of pairs of time signatures: 5/8 and 5/8, 5/8 and 4/4, 5/8 and 9/8, 15/16 and 15/16, 15/16 and 14/16, 10/8 and 20/16, 15/16 and 15/16, 15/16 and 14/16, 12/16 and 12/16, 12/16 and 11/16, 15/16 and 15/16, 15/16 and 14/16.

"Throughout the drums play in 17/16 - the Bill Bruford drumming video, 'Bruford and the Beat,' builds up to an explanation of the 17/16 pattern used (including the fact that the 4/4 bass drum pattern is maintained as a 'dance groove') and includes a live performance of the track interleaved with an interview with Robert Fripp about aspects of the track.

"In other interviews Fripp has explained that the track was composed as an exercise in discipline - no single instrument is allowed to take the lead role in the performance, nor to play as simply an accompaniment to the other instruments, but each player must maintain an equal role while allowing others to do the same."

5. Radiohead - "Pyramid Song"

This one's based around an uncommon subdivision of 8/8 time (3+3+2), swinging the eighth notes. The time could also be perceived as 16/8 subdivided as 3+3+4+3+3. There's also another interpretation based around a drum pattern cycle of 5/4-4/4-4/4-3/4 that repeats itself throughout the tune.

4. This Town Needs Guns - "Chinchilla"

Kicking off the math rockers' 2008 debut "Animals," "Chinchilla" delivers a laid-back vibe with more than enough odd timings to make the list.

3. Frank Zappa - "The Black Page #2"

The master of all styles, the prolific, the one and only Mr. Frank Zappa. His "The Black Page" is a piece well-known for complexity, featuring "statistical density" as Frank himself described it.

"It is written in common time with extensive use of tuplets, including tuplets inside tuplets. At several points there is a crotchet triplet (sixth notes) in which each beat is counted with its own tuplet of 5, 5 and 6; at another is a minim triplet (third notes) in which the second beat is a rubato quintuplet (actually a tuplet of 7), and the third beat is divided into tuplets of 4 and 5. The song ends with a crotchet triplet composed of tuplets of 5, 5, and 6, followed by two tuplets of 11 in the space of one," the explanation reads.

2. Dream Theater - "Dance of Eternity"

This is just one big odd-time extravaganza, featuring time changes almost in every bar. No wonder that beatboxer got so much kudos for his cover, including praises from Mike Portnoy himself. As you guys noted, some of the time signatures used are 3/8, 7/8, 5/8, 7/16, 5/4, 3/4, 6/4, 12/8, 5/16, 15/8, 9/8, 11/8, 6/16, and one section with several bars of 4/4.

1. Tool - "Schism"

Legendary for its odd timing and 47 time switches, Tool's "Schism" takes the crown this week. Here's a more detailed explanation from Wikipedia: "The song begins with two bars of 5/4, followed by one bar of 4/4, followed by bars of alternating 5/8 and 7/8, until the first interlude, which consists of alternating bars of 6/8 and 7/8.

"The following verse exhibits a similar pattern to the first, alternating bars of 5/8 and 7/8. The next section is bars of 6/4 followed by one bar of 11/8. This takes the song back into alternating 5/8 and 7/8. Another 6/8 and 7/8 section follows, and after this the song goes into repeating 7/8 bars.

"The middle section is subsequently introduced, consisting of three bars of 6/8, one bar of 3/8, and one bar of 3/4 repeating several times. At one point it interrupts with two bars of 6/8 followed by a bar of 4/8, twice. A bar of 5/8 is played before the meter switches back to 6/8 for two bars and 2/4 for one bar.

"This repeats, setting up another section: two bars of 9/8 followed by a bar of 10/8, that pattern again, and then a single bar of 9/8 followed by alternating bars of 6/8 and 7/8. The outro has alternating bars of 5/8 and 7/8, ending with alternating 6/8, 2/8 that one could interpret as pulsing with a 4/4 feel.

"The band has referred to the time signature as 6.5/8. Although many composers would use 13/16 instead, 6.5/8 is still a valid fractional time signature."

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