Odd time signatures | Page 3 | Recording and musicology | Fab forum

Please consider registering
Guest

Log In Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —

  

— Match —

   

— Forum Options —

   

Wildcard usage:
*  matches any number of characters    %  matches exactly one character

Minimum search word length is 4 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

Odd time signatures
7 June 2012
12.33pm
Ben Ramon
Candlestick Park
Forum Posts: 619
Member Since:
26 March 2012
Offline

You figure it out by counting along to it and seeing how many counts are in each bar- for instance, the most common time signature is 4/4. For instance when Paul goes "1 2 3 4!" at the beginning of I Saw Her Standing There, you can count 1234 at that same pace throughout the whole song, 4 beats for each bar. Conversely, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away is in 3/4, because you count 1 2 3 1 2 3 throughout it. Money by Pink Floyd is in 7/4, bit more unusual, you can count 7 throughout it.

As for why it matters? Well… it's how music works. Same as asking why string theory matters (although a little more simple).

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
7 June 2012
2.16pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
New York
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1283
Member Since:
10 August 2011
Offline
42

Ben Ramon, thanks.

I always got the "4" (as in 1 2 3 4) but I never understood the "/4" as in "3/4 time"

I guess it's just a notation and you can ignore the /4 part.

Thanks again.

I suppose I can now weigh in on the matter of the meter in "Happiness Is AWG"

(matter of the meter?)

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
7 June 2012
3.02pm
Ben Ramon
Candlestick Park
Forum Posts: 619
Member Since:
26 March 2012
Offline
43

Well the "/4" sometimes changes; basically the second number denotes what the value is of the note you are counting. All of the ones I mentioned above have 4 because they are crotchets (or quarter notes). If it was 6/8, for instance, you'd be counting quavers or eighth notes.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
10 June 2012
8.20pm
Artie Fisk
A Beginning
Forum Posts: 8
Member Since:
6 June 2012
Offline
44

Well, /4 indicates that a quarter note gets one beat, whereas /8 indicates that an eighth note gets one beat.  Sometimes, it's kind of arbitrary. 

 

For example, if you're counting in 3/4 time (3 beats to a measure, with a quarter note getting one beat), you would count it in three groups of two quavers with an accent on the first beat (ONE and two and three and) for each measure.  There are three distinct pulses in each measure. 

In 6/8 time (6 beats to the measure, an eighth note getting one beat), on the other hand, you'd be counting two sets of three quavers, with a strong accent on the first beat and a medial accent on the fourth (ONE two three, two two three).

 

A quaver is an eighth note, btw.

 

So, country waltzes are usually in 3/4, but jazz waltzes are usually 6/8.  For your ears, it's usually a matter of tempo and the accents. If you hear accents equally strong every three beats, and the tempo is medium to slow, it's usually 3/4.  If the accents alternate, strong with weaker, with a strong one every six beats, and the tempo is relatively fast, it's usually 6/8.  It's a matter of three groups of two versus two groups of three, if that makes any sense.

 

I don't think there are any Beatles songs in 6/8.  Could be wrong.  I grew up with the Milton Okun-arranged "Beatlemania" books of Beatles sheet music (and he really did a lousy job, in retrospect), but one thing he had correct, or so I now believe, was putting "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" in 12/8 time, which I never really understood until recently.  12/8 means that you're counting relatively fast threes, with a strong accent on every twelfth beat.  In that song, the strongest accents are on, in the first verse, the words "Here," "Turn," "If," and "Feeling," if that helps to clarify.  The other accents (on the words "stand," "head," "hand," and so on) are medial accents (less strong than the ones that occur every 12 beats.  How did he decide that? I guess by listening and then looking at the words that begin each clause or sentence, each syntactic unit.  Most of the rest of the time, though, Okun was a CHUMP, who changed keys arbitrarily (putting Eight Days A Week in Bb? REALLY?) and got some chords just plain WRONG. 

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy: All You Need Is Love"
10 June 2012
8.37pm
Artie Fisk
A Beginning
Forum Posts: 8
Member Since:
6 June 2012
Offline
45

Just looked at Alan Pollack's take on the time signature of Good Morning, Good Morning, and he seems right. He scans it thusly:

 

Each verse starts with a measure of 3, a measure of 4, and then a measure of 3.  So, while John is singing "Nothing to do to save his life, call his wife in," it's a total of 10 beats. 

The second line ("Nothing to say but 'What a day, how's your boy been?" and the little horn lick) is a measure of 3, a measure of 5, and a measure of 4. 11 beats total. 

The third line ("Nothing to do, it's up to you") is a measure of 5 and a measure of 4. 9 beats total.

The fourth line ("I've got nothing to say but 'It's OK, Good Morning, Good Morning.'") is two measures of 3 and two measures of 4.  14 beats total. 

So, if you want to think of it visually, in terms of time signature, it'd be:

|  3/4  |  4/4  |  3/4  |

|  3/4  |  5/4  |  4/4  |

|  5/4  |  4/4  |

|  3/4  |  3/4  |  4/4  |  4/4  |

 

It does, indeed, make sense if you listen and count it this way.  Things are more regular in the bridge, but the verse is so chaotic and random-seeming that it always throws me. 

 

Ultimately, I have to conclude that John just heard it this way in his head, and played it how he heard it.  I can't imagine him counting it like that.  Must have been really hard to teach to the band.  And it's such a great song.  You don't realize how interesting and complex it is until you try to play it or analyze it.  Lots of Beatles songs work that way.  And none of them could read music.  

 

I'm really glad that Alan Pollack did the work.  He's got some pretty goshdarn good ears. 

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy: All You Need Is Love"
10 June 2012
9.12pm
Joe
Pepperland
Admin
Forum Posts: 3450
Member Since:
31 March 2008
Offline

Yep, Pollack's articles are brilliant. I've thought about republishing them on this site – apparently it's OK to do so with a correct credit and back link (ie creative commons, though I don't think he used the term).

Isn't Oh! Darling in 6/8? What about the end of I Want You (SSH), Baby's In Black, Yes It Is, the final bit of MMT?

EDIT: Although George described it as a waltz, I always though I Me Mine was in 6/8. How about Long Long Long? I think that might actually be 3/4, on reflection. And I'm undecided about Yer Blues – that could be 4/4 with a swing beat, or perhaps 12/8.

Please don't spoil my day; I'm miles away

Can buy me love! Please consider using these links to support the Beatles Bible: Amazon | iTunes

10 June 2012
9.25pm
Artie Fisk
A Beginning
Forum Posts: 8
Member Since:
6 June 2012
Offline
47

Oh, snap! Forgot about them.  Yeah, I guess Baby's In Black has to be 6/8, doesn't it?  Never thought about it before, but you're right. Very jazzy, that beat, amongst the folk-rocking, innit?

 

Now that I count it, yep, I Want You (She's So Heavy) ends in 6/8, too.  Oh! Darling, too. 

 

Damn, I've gotta ungunk my ears.  Need to go back and really LISTEN for these things. 

 

***

 

So, I ought to credit Pollack for his work properly:

 

My post on the shifting time signatures in GMGM is a summary of work done by the estimable Mr. Alan W. Pollack, copyright (C) 1996, and findable here:

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~sounds…..m.shtml#q1

 

If ANY of you who are musicians and Beatle fans haven't spent a good chunk of time perusing Mr. Pollack's work, you SHOULD.  There's a very nice website with multiple ways to access his analyses here:

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~sounds…..s_on.shtml

 

I have contacted Mr. Pollack (but not heard back from him) to suggest that he consider publishing his "Notes On" series in book form.  If he ever does, it will sit on my Beatles reference shelf, right next to the Lewisohn, the Anthology, Andy Babiuk's Beatles Gear, and Geoff Emerick's book.  I bow to his ears and his wisdom. 

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy: All You Need Is Love"
11 June 2012
2.17am
Into the Sky with Diamonds
New York
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1283
Member Since:
10 August 2011
Offline
48

Very interesting….

Although I can see it as a good music theory exercise,  I still wonder why in the 21st century this would matter.

I can see how in the days before recorded music a musician could only go by sheet music; the meter would indicate the cadence.

But today?

Any thoughts on this?

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
11 June 2012
5.13am
Artie Fisk
A Beginning
Forum Posts: 8
Member Since:
6 June 2012
Offline
49

Well, if you're playing it with a band, you need to know where the downbeats are. When the meter changes with every measure, it's hard to get it right unless you have sussed out the meter changes, and practiced it.  Much easier to practice something like this if you can count it, or it is for me.  I find that if I can memorize the counts to where I really have it "under my fingers," I can then turn off my brain, and don't need to count any more.  Music theory exercise or not, you can't play someone else's song "correctly" unless you can analyze it properly. 

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy: All You Need Is Love"
11 June 2012
9.32am
Ben Ramon
Candlestick Park
Forum Posts: 619
Member Since:
26 March 2012
Offline

Joe said
Yep, Pollack's articles are brilliant. I've thought about republishing them on this site – apparently it's OK to do so with a correct credit and back link (ie creative commons, though I don't think he used the term).

Isn't Oh! Darling in 6/8? What about the end of I Want You (SSH), Baby's In Black, Yes It Is, the final bit of MMT?

EDIT: Although George described it as a waltz, I always though I Me Mine was in 6/8. How about Long Long Long? I think that might actually be 3/4, on reflection. And I'm undecided about Yer Blues – that could be 4/4 with a swing beat, or perhaps 12/8.

Maybe you should contact Pollack and ask if you haven't already? They're pretty essential reading for any Beatlesmaniac who has an interest in the more in depth musical aspect of the songs.

Paul described Baby's In Black as a waltz too. I guess it shows that for all their genius they weren't too clued in on the little details of the theory a-hard-days-night-george-10I think 12/8 would be the appropriate counting for Yer Blues if you were to transcribe it to sheet music, but the way the Beatles play it I think they were imagining it in 4/4 with the swing beat as you described- John's count of "2, 3" at the beginning suggests this, although Ringo rides the cymbal in 12/8 and Paul's bass chugs along at the same rate.

I always thought of Yes It Is in 4/4 but now I realize I was wrong, it's in a pretty fast 6/8 to these ears.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
11 June 2012
1.13pm
meanmistermustard
Moderator



Forum Posts: 9693
Member Since:
1 May 2011
Offline
51

This stuff goes way over my head, all the 3/4 and 7/8's. Have never understood the indepth musical note stuff and would never be able to identify an a# from a g.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
19 August 2012
12.32am
LTJX
A Beginning
Forum Posts: 7
Member Since:
19 May 2012
Offline
52

Joe said
I think George was certainly conscious of the changes, as he'd studied Indian music with Ravi Shankar. That's why Here Comes The Sun is so interesting in its rhythms. I'd imagine McCartney was also aware of the rules and how to break them, but Lennon less so.

I've read before that in writing a song Paul tended to come up with the main melody and most of the instrumental parts first.  When the instrumental music was done, Paul would then go looking for words that fit into his new song (or lyrics that "scanned" well as the Beatles would sometimes say).

On the other hand, John was always very much a man of words (he had 2 books published during 1963-65).  And John tended to develop a new song's lyrics first along with some basic chords, and then gradually build up the musical parts to fit around his words.

Some have suggested this fundamental difference in songwriting styles as a major explanation for the irregular structure and odd timing aspects in many of John's songs, compared to those of Paul.

1 November 2012
1.14pm
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1969
Member Since:
1 November 2012
Offline
53

My apologies if someone mentioned this already (but I browsed through this topic and didn't see it):

 

The ending of "Mean Mr. Mustard" has a cool transition from 4/4 into 3/4 as it blends into "Polythene Pam".

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
1 November 2012
1.28pm
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1969
Member Since:
1 November 2012
Offline
54

McLerristarr said
All You Need Is Love has time signatures of 7/4, 4/4 and 6/4.  Apparently it was the first (and one of only two) songs with a 7/4 time signature to reach the top 20 in the USA.

Though according to Wikipedia jazz legend Dave Brubeck's song Unsquare Dance only made #74 on the Billboard chart (I think in 1961), it remains the gold standard of 7/4 songs (not that there's much competition):

 

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/635918

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
12 October 2013
5.35pm
parlance
Slaggers
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 5091
Member Since:
8 November 2012
Offline
55

Reviving this thread because someone was helping me understand time signatures with "Baby's In Black," and whether or not it was 3/4 or 6/8. I had a breakthrough, and now I find this thread fascinating.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

13 October 2013
4.32am
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1969
Member Since:
1 November 2012
Offline
56

parlance, 6/8 and 3/4 are really the same thing one one level: "do the math" -- 6/8 is just twice 3/4.  Usually, a song with /8 is double-tempo, twice as fast.  If one were counting "Oh Darling!" as 3/4, it would just be twice as many measures, but it still works out the same as 6/8.

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
13 October 2013
5.27am
parlance
Slaggers
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 5091
Member Since:
8 November 2012
Offline
57

^^ Yeah, that I knew, I wanted to understand why one would use the 6/8 signature as opposed to 3/4 and I have a better understanding now.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

11 November 2013
4.53pm
vectisfabber
The Jacaranda
Forum Posts: 28
Member Since:
11 November 2013
Offline
58

Into the Sky with Diamonds said
Very interesting….

Although I can see it as a good music theory exercise,  I still wonder why in the 21st century this would matter.

I can see how in the days before recorded music a musician could only go by sheet music; the meter would indicate the cadence.

But today?

Any thoughts on this?

It's fine as long as it is being played by a group who are happy to play a piece they already know by ear.  But if you have a group who don't know the piece, sheet music is pretty much essential.

My personal favourite here is She Said She Said, where it feels as if the change from 4:4 to 3:4 kicks in at "When I was a boy" whereas it actually kicks in 2 bars earlier with "No no no, you're wrong."

23 April 2014
1.03am
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
Forum Posts: 1969
Member Since:
1 November 2012
Offline
59

Got directed (or redirected) to this discussion after I posted my topic about 5/4 time.  I knew in the back of my mind this old topic existed, but I couldn't find it.

Lots of information and ideas here to sift through, at a later date.  For starters about the motley time signatures of "Good Morning, Good Morning":

"Ultimately, I have to conclude that John just heard it this way in his head, and played it how he heard it.  I can't imagine him counting it like that. "

I more or less agree.  Some songwriters would have heard it that way initially, then would have recoiled at all the "wrong" time signatures (i.e., not following 4/4 uniformly from measure to measure), and would have said, "well, we have to adjust things here to make the whole thing fit".  John must have had the open-minded sense of creativity to say, "why not just do it as it seemed most natural to me at the start, and a fig on 'correct' time signatures!").  And his initial sense of the song one can chalk up to the mysteriously divine inspiration from the Muse of music.

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
Forum Timezone: Europe/London

Most Users Ever Online: 597

Currently Online: UnidentifiedFiendishThingy
51 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

meanmistermustard: 9693

mr. Sun king coming together: 6916

parlance: 5089

Ahhh Girl: 4901

mithveaen: 4651

Zig: 4069

Annadog40: 4058

Mr. Kite: 3601

Ron Nasty: 3022

fabfouremily: 2934

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 88

Members: 2587

Moderators: 4

Admins: 2

Forum Stats:

Groups: 3

Forums: 34

Topics: 3163

Posts: 133381

Newest Members: tilt, JMF, Lovely_Rita40, AryoSutcliffe, cleaner101

Moderators: Ahhh Girl (4901), meanmistermustard (9693), Zig (4069), Joe (3450)

Administrators: Joe (3450), Ellie (1)

Members Birthdays
Today: None
Upcoming: None