Time Signatures

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Time Signatures

Postby Veracohr » Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:56 am

Question regarding time signatures:

If a song has a rhythm section that is obviously 4/4, but a melody that (taken by itself) could be said to be another time signature, is the song's 'real' signature based on the rhythm section?

A thread on another forum made me think of this question. It never really occurred to me before, but which part of an song/arrangement actually determines the time signature?
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Re: Time Signatures

Postby soundwave106 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:02 pm

I don't think there are any very strict rules for polyrhythms, as Western notation is not really well suited for that sort of music (in a polyrhythm the bar lines kind of loose their sense of meaning, for instance). Western notation was sort of more set up for the classical tradition which typically has one sole rhythm.

That being said, I think the typical practice is to note the section laying down the dominant rhythm, which in pop music usually is the back line (drum and bass), not the melody. If it were a true cross rhythm, maybe you'd use a time signature that would accompany both, but most songs tend to have a rhythm that is much stronger than the other.
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Re: Time Signatures

Postby selfinflikted » Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:57 pm

Yep. I'd go with whatever the drum and bass are doing to determine the "real" time sig.
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Re: Time Signatures

Postby ClavAnother » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:59 am

I think the real time signature is 15/16
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Re: Time Signatures

Postby Plink Floyd » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:38 am

Mr. G. Gershwin knew how to bitch-slap a time sig silly. His rhythms were facinating. Gentle Giant also, but with a moar subtle approach; they gently muddled the diddly out of it till it became a giant snarl of polyrhythmic syncopatties. And don't let's even Zappa...
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Re: Time Signatures

Postby gregwar » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:23 am

some time sigs like 3/4 or 6/8 kind of depend on the emphasis

in 6/8 "waltz" type tracks it's like *1* - 2 - 3 *1* - 2 - 3, in triplets and 3/4 time usually doesn't have the emphasis on the 1

melodies, solos, etc don't normally dictate the time sig it's usually what the supporting instruments are doing (down beats, up beats or other rhythmic emphasis)

the backing instruments normally have to support the melody tho which is where a certain chord might only appear once in a song or a few beats might be added or taken away from a bar

these are just generalities tho
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Re: Time Signatures

Postby Veracohr » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:07 am

Thanks, by the way. :)
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Re: Time Signatures

Postby Purity_Control » Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:00 am

I don't think it's worth giving that much thought to what the 'real' time signature is.

If you need to count it in your head to get to grips with it, you could always try working with the nearest common denominator of both?
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