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When to use 7/8 Time Signature

What's your favorite Time Signature besides 4/4

  • 3/4

    Votes: 13 20.3%
  • 5/4

    Votes: 7 10.9%
  • 6/8

    Votes: 20 31.3%
  • 7/8

    Votes: 14 21.9%
  • 11/8

    Votes: 3 4.7%
  • 12/8

    Votes: 5 7.8%
  • 13/8

    Votes: 2 3.1%

  • Total voters
    64

Ben H

Senior Member
Yes, a lot of his music is in 7/8. Apparently it is a common "greek thing."

I'm not hating on Yanni, BTW. I am a big fan of his music.
 

gregh

Senior Member
i dont really get this at all - there are famous pop songs in all sorts of time sigs - you just use whatever time sig the piece is in when you think of it. There is nothing about 7/8 or 11/4 that makes it necessarily "edgy" or not
eg
or this classic

 
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There's some great stuff in a recent indie-electronic soundtrack - I think it's You Were Never Really Here by Jonny Greenwood - which is a really simple, lofi electro production but it's in an odd time sig. It's a hypnotic, slow-lurch of an effect which conveys that sense of 'not quite as expected' brilliantly.

(also, stop stealing writer shares from new composers)
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Oh man, you can do some absolutely killer percussive stuff with 7/8. I highly recommend experimenting yourself...in the early days of midi I would grab some generic Rock drumbeat midi (most of course are in 4/4) and then fool with it until I made a smashing, Apocalypse Elements-rocketed action cue in 7/8.

Strongly recommend trying it. You might come up with something entirely your own, in a relatively difficult signature...how cool is that? :)
 

michelsimons

Active Member
I agree with @gregh. It's almost never a conscious decision to use an odd time signature. Being exposed to a lot of music with these sort of time signatures probably helps.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Exercises in different time signatures can really bring your compositional skills to a new level.

But then, this is coming from someone who has the luxury of being able to compose and do such exercises practically all day, seven days a week. Probably not an option for a person rushed for time.
 

anjwilson

New Member
Yes, a lot of his music is in 7/8. Apparently it is a common "greek thing."

I'm not hating on Yanni, BTW. I am a big fan of his music.
It's a broader Balkan thing, though it's not limited to just 7/8 and 7/4. Many of their unequal meters are made of the free mixture of 2s and 3s (7 is three beats of unequal length, usually 2+2+3 or 3+2+2).

When I taught ear training, I used to finish a unit on unequal meters with a Bulgarian song "Sedi Donka," which is "in 25" (7+7+11, which breaks down to 3+2+2 + 3+2+2 + 2+2+3+2+2):

 

ceemusic

Active Member
Bill Chase used all types of sig. changes in his music, very challenging material. Then there's playing over the bar like this 4/4 F.Z. piece. I use time signatures in writing as part of the creative process rather than 'when to use.'

Still one could use time signatures for creating certain emotions (tension, anxiety, peaceful, relaxed) into the composition. Remember Pink Floyd's 'Money' is 7/8.. I think most people find it natural & don't even notice or think of it as odd timing.

 
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RobbertZH

Member
When to use 7/8 Time Signature?

When you make symphonic rock or progressive rock. :)
Those bands in the seventies used uncommon time signatures all the time.

These rhythms (with drums, bass, etc) can provide lots of energy and excitement.
They sound "logical" on the surface, but I sometimes find it rather difficult to beat/clap with some of those. :shocked:

Take for example to "the Fifth Season" (probably in 5/4 given the song title) from the Belgian symphonic rock band "Machiavel". Fast forward to around 4:10 minutes and try to clap the rhythm. I always fail. But I love the song nevertheless.


Or another nice example is "Tanz und Tod" from the German symphonic rock band "Anyone's Daughter" (probably unknown in english-speaking countries):


I did not know those uncommon time signatures are still used today but in other music genres like movie scores.
 
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JT

Senior Member
Bill Chase used all types of sig. changes in his music, very challenging material.
I think you meant Don Ellis, not Chase.

Ellis scored films late in his career, most notably The French Connection. The main theme is in 7/8, but the genesis of where the theme came from is, I think absolutely brilliant. Gene Hackman's character is a cop who's trying to catch a drug smuggler, the drugs hidden in a car. Hackman disassembles the car trying to find the drugs. Frustrated, he takes a reciprocating saw and cuts the rivets off of the rocker panel, exposing the hidden drugs.

But the cool part is, the sound and rhythm that the reciprocating saw made as it was cutting, was in 7/8, and became the rhythmic motif for this film.

I didn't notice this when I first saw the film, but after I was familiar with the score, I almost fell out of my chair when I heard this scene. The music world lost an extremely talented musician and composer when Don Ellis died.
 
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Patrick de Caumette

Senior Member
Odd meters are great for film.
The fact that they end their cycles on the upbeat of an expected 4/4 or 6/8 or 12/8 (etc...) contribute to the effect of never quite rhythmically "resolving", adding motion.
They also add excitement by getting away from our familiar western habits (4/4... 3/4)
 
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