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Any advice on getting better at odd time signatures?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Any advice on getting better at odd time signatures?
astrodislocate
For a while now I've been interested in the idea of working with rhythms outside of the the standard even-timed stuff that's so common. I've been at least slightly successful (when I'm using Renoise, at least), but usually only in the form of happy accidents or trial & error. The trouble with both of those methods are that A) if it's an accident, I'll often have trouble continuing to think in that time signature past a couple of bars, and B)If I use trial and error, the workflow is really very slow and tedious. very frustrating

Is there any good advice, articles, books, etc that can help me to think about less common time signatures in a more natural way?
Fastus
From a purely mechanical point of view, working with accents will help clarify the rhythm better and make it more intuitive. In any meter you'd probably accent the first beat - with something like a 5 beat might you might imagine a 3/2 pattern with accents at 1 & 4, or 4/3 for a 7 beat pattern.

I use a comparator w my Rene sequencer to do this - running the pitch CV from memory, reserving the pots for accents only, and deselecting all but my five notes, marking the 1 & 4 for accents by turning full CW(hi) and all other fccw(lo)

x x x x
x x x x
hi lo x x
hi lo lo x

With Rene CV routed to the comparator, you could then route the comparator gate directly to the FALL in Math (decay) or to the key in of a Boogie or Borg filter to accentuate those notes. You could also route that gate, maybe thru an envelope first, to any other module parameter that would make that note change/stand out.

Just one way to do it... if you're using a MIDI sequence you might send a parallel event - say a volume bump, a parameter change event or even a second supporting track that chimes in on the accented beats

Hope this helps.
felixer
you just have to make it sound logical in that time signature. i often write riffs in 5/4 or 7/8 and am not even aware of it until i put on some drums ... they usually come to me while riding my bike hihi dunno why really, prob because the regular movement of my legs invites some sort of counterpoint ...
Dcramer
Years ago I performed with an Early Music ensemble and often played odd time sigs.

To stay focused we sang little phrases to ourselves to find the right accent points.

Here's one for 7: "wonderful money money"

Just keep singing it to yourself! thumbs up
tdmotion
good post
felixer
i've seen children in east-european countries dance to 13/8. i counted the beat but they didn't! just goes to show that it's all a matter of 'getting used to'. so listen to plenty of that stuff or prog rock (rush or yes or king crimson) and it'll come to you ...
moremagic
i like to program weird rhythms into sequencers/drum machines

can be tricky on some models but it will usu be easier to play along to than having to keep a funny count to a metronome
Bojmir Raj Raj
Fastus wrote:
From a purely mechanical point of view, working with accents will help clarify the rhythm better and make it more intuitive. In any meter you'd probably accent the first beat - with something like a 5 beat might you might imagine a 3/2 pattern with accents at 1 & 4, or 4/3 for a 7 beat pattern.

I use a comparator w my Rene sequencer to do this - running the pitch CV from memory, reserving the pots for accents only, and deselecting all but my five notes, marking the 1 & 4 for accents by turning full CW(hi) and all other fccw(lo)

x x x x
x x x x
hi lo x x
hi lo lo lo

With Rene CV routed to the comparator, you could then route the comparator gate directly to the FALL in Math (decay) or to the key in of a Boogie or Borg filter to accentuate those notes. You could also route that gate, maybe thru an envelope first, to any other module parameter that would make that note change/stand out.

Just one way to do it... if you're using a MIDI sequence you might send a parallel event - say a volume bump, a parameter change event or even a second supporting track that chimes in on the accented beats

Hope this helps.


this!

working with odd rhythms, exclusively, I've found that accents are most important for defining the beat.

Another thing to think about is this: you can make any rhythm by subdividing, down to eighths for example, and grouping into 2s and 3s, Balkan style. The Macedonian "five" rhythm, which we all know from the Mission Impossible theme, and is the default rhythm of Macedonian folk music, is, in eighth notes, 3, 3, 2, 2. (long, long, short, short, or, in Western notation, dotted quarter, dotted quarter, quarter, quarter.)
JohnLRice
Bojmir Raj Raj wrote:
Fastus wrote:
From a purely mechanical point of view, working with accents will help clarify the rhythm better and make it more intuitive. In any meter you'd probably accent the first beat - with something like a 5 beat might you might imagine a 3/2 pattern with accents at 1 & 4, or 4/3 for a 7 beat pattern.

I use a comparator w my Rene sequencer to do this - running the pitch CV from memory, reserving the pots for accents only, and deselecting all but my five notes, marking the 1 & 4 for accents by turning full CW(hi) and all other fccw(lo)

x x x x
x x x x
hi lo x x
hi lo lo lo

With Rene CV routed to the comparator, you could then route the comparator gate directly to the FALL in Math (decay) or to the key in of a Boogie or Borg filter to accentuate those notes. You could also route that gate, maybe thru an envelope first, to any other module parameter that would make that note change/stand out.

Just one way to do it... if you're using a MIDI sequence you might send a parallel event - say a volume bump, a parameter change event or even a second supporting track that chimes in on the accented beats

Hope this helps.


this!

working with odd rhythms, exclusively, I've found that accents are most important for defining the beat.

Another thing to think about is this: you can make any rhythm by subdividing, down to eighths for example, and grouping into 2s and 3s, Balkan style. The Macedonian "five" rhythm, which we all know from the Mission Impossible theme, and is the default rhythm of Macedonian folk music, is, in eighth notes, 3, 3, 2, 2. (long, long, short, short, or, in Western notation, dotted quarter, dotted quarter, quarter, quarter.)
thumbs up You guys beat me to it! (pun intended hihi )

As a young drummer growing up listening to prog rock it seemed a majority of the odd time pieces were structured and worked out that all of the primary subdivisions were all at the front of the pattern with one 'unexpected' subdivision tagged to the end. So like 4-4-5 or 2-2-3 or 3-3-3-2 etc etc

Then in college playing as lot of "avant garde" music I learned some helpful words that had syllable counts that matched certain patterns since a lot of that music was very challenging . . . either because the composer was trying to explore new frontiers of music . . . or was just too high when writing it! meh lol For instance you might be playing a piece where the time signature was changing every few bars and then on beat 3 of the 11/4 bar there is a super fast run of a quintuplet followed by a triplet . . .all on just that single beat! eek! Dead Banana not this shit again I doubt I ever got those things exactly right . . . . Anyways, for a group of 5 the word "necessarily" works well (ne-ce-ssar-i-ly) and for a group of 7 the phrase "not unnecessarily" works well (not-un-ne-ce-ssar-i-ly).

And then many years later I joined a Balkan folk music group called The Makedonians http://www.themakedonians.com/about.htm and learned a lot about counting odd time signatures since . . there were a lot of them and the structures were usually different to what I was accustomed to with prog rock stuff. For instance all of the 'predictable' subdivisions weren't stacked up at the beginning with the 'unpredictable' subdivision at the end, they were mixed together in various ways, like 3-2-2-3-2 or long-short-short-long-short etc. This really threw me at first, partially since there was no syllable correlation, the word "long" was just said 'longer' than "short was said, sort of similar to how Morse Code is verbalized, in case you are familiar: dit-dit-dit-dah-dah-dah-dit-dit-dit (dahs are twice as long as dits) I remember one of my first rehearsals and the leader says "OK, this one is in 18 and I'll count off two bars for nothing: long-short-short-short-short-long-short-short-long-short-short-short-s hort-long-short-short" and I'm like hmmm..... eek! seriously, i just don't get it uuuhhhmm, wait please! lol I got him to start again but to give me a bit of an indication of when he started counting the second bar and that helped a lot! cool

Another thing that helped me hold onto some of the more difficult patterns, especially with pieces I was not comfortable with yet, was listening to the melody, since the melody phrasing was something I could mentally hold onto and predict the beginning and end of, like a word or sentance. This was good and bad because occasionally the lead player might drop out and I might loose the pattern! eek! d'oh!

Anyways, sorry for old man ramblings about my experiences, not sure if all that helps or confuses, but I love the subject! love screaming goo yo SlayerBadger! hyper
felixer
of course you divide a longer beat into smaller parts. you do that with a 4/4 too after all. ONE-two-THREE-four. it's called the downbeat ...
in indian music there is simply the addition (or substraction) of a beat. so from 4/4 you can go to 3/4 and 5/4. ONE-two-THREE-four-five. etc etc.
a useful excercise (well, i found it useful) is to play a set of those: ONE ONE-two ONE-two-three ONE 2 3 4 ONE 2 3 4 5. that's 20 in all so you can have a mate play a straigh 4/4 against it and check if it works.
astrodislocate
I was expecting to respond to one or two short posts when I got back to this thread (Been busy with other stuff) but hot damn ya'll are helpful. Thanks to all of you thumbs up
jwhtn
One way to experiment when writing is to make a fairly standard melody that works over, say, two bars of 4/4, and then just remove a chunk from the end. This feels weird and abrupt, especially if you've learned to groove to the original 4/4, but with repetition you'll start to pick up on the feel of that loop point, which can lead you to some interesting places rhythmically, and naturally drive you to subdivide the riff into groups of beats that are easier to count.
CopperHydra
Pick an odd time rhythm you really like, perhaps one of your happy accidents. Memorize it exactly then play it everywhere you go with your fingers on a surface. Play the accented notes harder. Tap your desk, dashboard, headboard, cutting board, your belly, your knee, your nose, whatever, just keep doing it. Pretty soon you won't have to think about the structure numerically. You'll be able to just feel simple rhythms in odd meter by "listening" to the nerves in your finger. Then, you can either let your subconscious handle the rest or implement what you've learned from the posts above into this exercise.

That's how I taught myself to play and write odd time. (Side Note: Trial and error I think will always be a part of my process as it's so worked well for musicians, producers and engineers I've spoken too that I admire. Textbooks call it "The Scientific Method". It is responsible for antibiotics and spring reverb. You're absolutely right about it being very tedious work but we fucking need it!)

If you really want to get complex, introduce your other hand playing a different meter you've already memorized.

(ex. left hand 5/4 | right hand 3/4

You may have already recognized that this is a polyrhythm.

It'd be cool to hear a soundcloud post of what you make.
jwhtn
Quote:
Textbooks call it "The Scientific Method". It is responsible for antibiotics and spring reverb.


Favorite quote ever.
nff
keep it up! I love odd time signatures, actually I almost always think in odd time signatures. Another matter that might interest you here are polyrhythms, basically two rhythms on top of each other, very interesting, as you can listen and play along with the single rhythms, and then put everything together. I used to do it with bass, blind overdubbing, lotsa fun!
notmiserlouagain
CopperHydra wrote:

If you really want to get complex, introduce your other hand playing a different meter you've already memorized.

(ex. left hand 5/4 | right hand 3/4

You may have already recognized that this is a polyrhythm.

It'd be cool to hear a soundcloud post of what you make.


Yes this is polymetric rhythm concept and works really well with sequencers!
Actually works well with all kind of instruments hyper
From a compositional point of view the work of dusan bogdanovic is the hallmark of teaching complex rhythms.

Mysterious Habitats

Jonas Hellborg lesson at Freak Guitar Camp 2007
dudeman
Dcramer wrote:
Years ago I performed with an Early Music ensemble and often played odd time sigs.

To stay focused we sang little phrases to ourselves to find the right accent points.

Here's one for 7: "wonderful money money"

Just keep singing it to yourself! thumbs up



great thread! i've always known to breakdown complex time signatures into subdivisions but had never thought of assigning words or syllables to the patterns.

it's amazing how bringing this across into the realm of language (something we've been around since birth and use every day) instantly makes it easier for the brain to process!

going to have "wonderful money money" going round in my head all day. maybe the least budhist mantra ever uttered....?
felixer
speech rhythms is another good one! nobody talks in 4/4 so everybody is familiar with odd meters, except that it usually isn't caried over to music. except for guys like zappa etc
a good exercise might be to record some conversation and then replace the voices with instruments. i remember a composition someone (forgot) made by transscribing some speech from a marines general for trombone. even without the words you could feel the agression/anger!
Muzone
I got better at odd rhythms by counting steps in one rhythm and clicking fingers, tapping side etc. in another.
So footsteps go 1-2-3 while hands go 1-2-3-4-5 and so on, best done in a more rural setting where you have unobstructed walking - urban walks are bit to stop/start for this
tweakfilter
I think there's no magical method. also its in your vein. the culture you grew up takes an important role. ask a Brazilian player, they can have in samba really odd complex and long sig; bastards;) seems easy for them.
but its all about accents. listen a lot world music, Indian, Macedonian, Bulgarian or , Greek folk. flamenco or salsa are also. so much to explore, oh dear.
you might find a different method. Personally I work with numbers. Syllables like some explained before can be useful.
A friend drummer thaught me a interesting method , the " Ga Ma La Ta Ki method". it's a kind of western approach of Indian raga. it's not new, it only deconstructs the rhythm phrase into 2's and 3'. And for me is easier when I'm playing with others very fast tempo.
imagine You have a 5/4 signature and sing "GA MA LA TA KI". Bold syllables are accents and the beginning of the the 2 words. So in 5/4 instead of thinking 1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5 you sing and feel GA MA LA TA KI |GA MA LA TA KI |GA MA LA TA KI |GA MA LA TA KI

With this you can compose very odds signatures. Another example: a 11 /4
GA MA LA TA KI GA MA LA GA MA LA
or
TA KI GA MA LA GA MA LA GA MA LA

I prefer numbers but when playing with band very very fast it's easier with this method. Just because, if I use numbers in my language (Portuguese) I acquire Dysarthria.

How do I use in modular? Dividers and seq switchs. I use simple but powerful modules. in every patch I use 4ms rcd and doepfer a151. imagine rcd /5 into its reset. /3 /2 alternatively in doepfer seq switch, out to filters or waveshapers to accents. and I have a Gamala Taki rythm;)
felixer
i remember a blonde flute player claiming it was easy to do a seven rhythm: 1 2 3 4 5 6 se - ven hihi so yeah, language can be a problem.
ps i'm blonde myself so i can make these kind of jokes Mr. Green
tremolo3
tweakfilter wrote:
also its in your vein. the culture you grew up takes an important role.


This!

All Japanese people seem to be educated with some sort of polyrhythm computer that simply can't do straight 4/4.

As a Mexican, I can say we are crazy about the 6/8 time signature.


My advice is to start listening and analyzing prog and math rock.
Yeggman
tweakfilter wrote:

A friend drummer thaught me a interesting method , the " Ga Ma La Ta Ki method". it's a kind of western approach of Indian raga.


The South Indian vocal percussion syllable system/practice is called konnakol - a bit more info here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konnakol
tweakfilter
Yeggman wrote:
tweakfilter wrote:

A friend drummer thaught me a interesting method , the " Ga Ma La Ta Ki method". it's a kind of western approach of Indian raga.


The South Indian vocal percussion syllable system/practice is called konnakol - a bit more info here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konnakol


I know. I don't know very well the konnakol practice so I'm not sure if the Gamala Taki is very different. This one was developed by Karl Berg, as far as I know,
check it here http://karlberger.org
Rost + Licht
Would you interpret what is happening with the incoming beat that its changing time signatures, or is it actually slowed down/sped-up? http://nts.live/projects/aphex-twin

Even though I don't like their writing style, I find some attack' production techniques quite well pictured.

There is this one:
https://www.attackmagazine.com/technique/passing-notes/bored-of-44-oth er-time-signatures-in-dance-music/2/

and this:

https://www.attackmagazine.com/technique/passing-notes/polyrhythms/

And hey!, first post :smile
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