Forum: Ask a Teacher

pieces of music with different time signatures
By dancing2009
On Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:30 AM

Hi everyone,

Wondering if you could help me? I am taking my teachers exam in tap ISTD DDE exam for any of you who are familiar and i am trying to do my music list. I am in need of different music with different time signatures such as 3/4's, 5/4's and 7/4's.

i was wondering if any one could pass on any good pieces of music with these time signatures in.

Thank you so much xxx

7 Replies to pieces of music with different time signatures

re: pieces of music with different time signatures
By vista5Premium member
On Mon Dec 03, 2012 04:43 PM
Any waltz is 3/4 time (also called "waltz time") The most well know 5/4 is Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" Nothing popping into my brain for 7/4
re: pieces of music with different time signatures (karma: 1)
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Dec 03, 2012 05:32 PM
I am not a teacher, but I am a symphony musician and familiar with most of this.

Many pieces are in triple meter which includes 3/4, 3/8, 3/16, 9/8 and other permutations. As mentioned any "Oomp pah pah" waltz is in triple meter, usually notated as 3/4. This, by definition also include minuets, scherzos and after 4/4 and 2/4 it is the most common notation.

I believe the entirety of the second movement of Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" Symphony (#6) is in 5/4 time though when we play it we usually count (to ourselves) 1-2-1-2-3 and conductors tend to beat it that way. The opening of "Mars" from Gustave Holst's "The Planets" is written in 5/4.

7/4 or septuple meter...and again we tend to count this as 1-2-1-2-1-2-3 when playing is often found in Stravinsky's ballets including a whole section ("General Rejoicing) of the "Firebird" ballet. It is quite common in 20th century music though in my experience it is seen as small segments of mixed meter pieces where you might see a piece where the meter changes sometimes in every musical measure. e.g. 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7.

Since musicians (I play violin/viola) don't see these all the time...we tend to think in duple (including the very common 4/4 time or triple meters since 95% of the music we see is written that way, we use some dodges for the more unusual one to help us when practicing. For a pentuple meter we will say (to ourselves) "Da-vid-Lett-er-man" [5 syllables]; or, for a septuple meter "Al-ex-an-der-Glaz-u-nov" [7 syllables and a composer name we all know.]

This link discusses septuple meter in more detail. . . .

More than you ever wanted to know about the subject can be found here: . . .

Most of this one is pretty esoteric and despite playing for 60 years, 50 of them in symphonies, I haven't seen most of these...many of which are from extremely avant-garde music which mercifully I've never had to play.

re: pieces of music with different time signatures (karma: 1)
By imadanseurPremium member
On Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:57 PM
Since you are studying for your tap exam, I am thinking you are looking for music that you might be able to tap to???

The most popular tap song I know that trips people up because when you are listening you don't hear the funky time measure: Take 5 by Dave Bruebeck’s Quartet - 5/4

Money by Pink 7/8 I think. (Maybe it is 7/4) you might want to check that out, but it is one of those.

Hey Ya by Outkast....Emulates 11/4 which uses a six-measure phrase consisting of three 4/4 measures, a 2/4 measure, and two 4/4 measure.

Mission Impossible Theme - 5/4

Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles - has shifting measures throughout the song.

Say a Little Prayer by Dione Warwick - I think it is 11/4 on the verses and 10/4 on the chorus or vice versa. I'm too lazy to figure it out now.

Not really a pop song, but I've been told Schism, by Toolchanges time signature 47 times. The band says that it is in 6.5/8 or 13/16.

I Hung My Head by Sting - 9/8

She's Always A Woman by Billy Joel...alternates between 6/8 and 9/8

Heart of Glass by Blondie...during the synth solo, a beat disappears from every other measure – 4/4, then 3/4, then 4/4 etc
re: pieces of music with different time signatures (karma: 2)
By Sumayah
On Mon Dec 03, 2012 09:30 PM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2012-12-03 21:33:39 forgot a video
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2012-12-03 21:43:15 quarter notes, eighth noties, sixteenth notes... gah it all gets so confuzzled in my head!
This is a subject I love. My dad is a musician and road trips used to be comprised of long "scenic routes" where he'd play Suma Guess The Time Signature game with me. As such, I do enjoy different time signatures and like to challenge myself in counting them. I will second Imadanseur on Tool. Maynard does like interesting time signatures.

Toadies "Possum Kingdom" is a 7/8 but they count it as a 4/4 and a 3/4: 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4

Check out Don Ellis Orchestra, he doesn't play a single 4/4 or 3/4. My favorite is titled 333 222 1 222. That's also how you count it. (19 beats to the bar.)
123 123 12 12 12 1 12 12 12

Radiohead also play with time signatures a lot.
"Pyramid Song" from Amnesiac:

"Everything In It's Right Place" - 1234, 1234, 12 10/4

"Morning Bell" - 123, 12, 123, 12 (10/8)

"In Limbo" - the drums are playing a 4/4 but the the guitar is playing a 6/4.

"15 Step" - 5/8

"Whirring" by Joy Formidable - I count it best this way: 123, 1 123, 1, 12, 12, 123, 1, 123, 1, 12, 123, 1, 123, 1, 12, 12, 123, 1, 123, 1, 12 - trying to count it in fours is like banging a circle through a square opening.

I loved this song so much. Talk Show "Hello Hello" 7/8:
1234, 1234, 1234, 12

Led Zepplin's "Kashmir" is in a 6/8 and 4/4 - I have my dancers waltz to it now and again, haha.

Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" 7/8: 1234, 1234, 1234, 12

Soundgarden "My Wave" 5/8 and 4/4:

"Shout Me Out" Tv on the Radio drums in a 4/4, vocals and guitar in 12/8

Alice in Chains "Them Bones" 7/8 and 4/4

Pink Floyd's "Money" is an easy 7/4 because the register/money sounds are seven distinctive repeating noises on the beat. Switches to 4/4.

Here's a page full of interesting time signatures! . . . also check out this: . . .
re: pieces of music with different time signatures
By Sumayah
On Tue Dec 04, 2012 08:31 PM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2012-12-04 21:58:37 eighth notes, quarter notes... no difference right?
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2012-12-04 22:17:05
So I looked at the pyramid song notes and it says it alternates between a 9/8 and a 6/8, so I set to the task of counting it out. Here's what makes sense to me with the piano phrasing. Let me know if sounds right to you guys.

(123, 12, 123, 1)(12, 123, 1)(123, 12, 123, 1)(12, 123, 1)

Do y'all hear it that way or am I making this up?

ETA: I should clarify, I'm tracking the piano melody and not the drums, the drums are easy. I realize that there are too many half measure for a drummer to follow the pattern I set forth in that song. Although it is a super fun pattern. I think I'm going to make my tap class tomorrow do a combo to that rhythm.

Shuffle step (R), flap (L), shuffle step (R), scuff (L), flap (L), shuffle step (R), step (L). That way the right foot only does triples and the left foot is doing the different steps. Oooh! Or I could make into a crazy timestep.

Sh st (R), fl (L), sh st (R), scuff (L), fl (L), sh st (R), hop (R)
Sh st (L), fl (R), sh st (L), scuff (R), fl (R), sh st (L), hop (L)
Sh st (R), fl (L), sh st (R), scuff (L), fl (L), sh st (R), leap (L)
Sh st (R), sh st (L), fl (R), fl (L) scuff stamp (R) scuff stamp (L) Clap hands

Yes! Granted this will be a capella, but it will be a good rhythm brain teaser for them.
re: pieces of music with different time signatures
By hummingbird
On Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:42 PM
Edited by hummingbird (128773) on 2012-12-06 22:43:36
Here's another one, Unsquare Dance it's a 7/4 also by Dave Brubeck, he died today of heart failure, so RIP Mr Brubeck and thank you for the music.
re: pieces of music with different time signatures
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