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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

Illico

Samuel Le Tonquèze
hum...I would say, all of them, especially for film scoring synchronization. But votes for 5/4 and 7/8 for moving effect and 6/8 for dancing.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
A more serious answer, which is probably obvious to most people here: the thing with "odd" time signatures is to avoid the trap of pounding out "1" on every bar. Same with triple and quadruple meter, of course.
 

dgburns

splunge
For me, 5/4, 6/8, 7/8, 11/8 are really fun.

For me, 5/4 always sounds a bit bouncy, but maybe it’s because I like it with swing. I use 5/8 alot too in the same way but faster. The LOTR uses 5/4 during the battle scene in the last movie. Great stuff. Epic.

6/8 sound historical and purposeful to me, like marching or travelling. I like 4+2 because otherwise 3+3 sounds like 3/8.

7/8 is like dystopia for time. It’s 8/8 on a diet, like the record skips. More specifically, I tend to use 4/8 + 3/8 bit that’s maybe just habit.

11/8 I use when I want to get crazy. Like 3+3+3+2 and the last two are anticipating the cycle start. I love 11/8 but I find it hard to work with image due to the longer cycle length, so I find myself using more pickup measures to make things work to image. I also find myself not using too much melody with 11/8, but maybe that’s because I haven’t worked with it all that much.

Ya, I hear you, now you can go on with your life now that I said all that ;)
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
A more serious answer, which is probably obvious to most people here: the thing with "odd" time signatures is to avoid the trap of pounding out "1" on every bar. Same with triple and quadruple meter, of course.
As someone to whom none of this is obvious: what do you mean by that, and why?
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
As someone to whom none of this is obvious: what do you mean by that, and why?
Well, it can get tedious.

If you listen to Dave Brubeck's Take Five, for example, he does repeat the 3+2 ostinato over and over, but the melody is 4-bar phrases, so it's not tedious (in fact I still love that album!). But just repeating a 1-bar groove over and over - which emphasizing "1" on every bar tends to encourage - can be boring.

Can be boring - I'm not saying it always is in all contexts.

Really, the first thing you notice (or that I noticed) about odd time signatures is that they don't sound odd at all. So that alone won't make music unique.
 

AR

Senior Member
I somehow muss the 10/8 which is a pretty driving forward rhythm. DiDaDaDiDaDaDiDaDiDa....
 

The Darris

Senior Member
All of them are great.

When film scoring, I've found 7/8 to be like the best when needing to be flexible, especially in action sequences. Why?

Well, on this recent project I am working on. I challenged myself to avoid having any type of tempo changes whenever possible. Now, this doesn't always work because there are scenes where the natural pacing of a scene is rather slow and goes into a faster paced feel (ie; the transitions into action sequences). In most cases, you could simply choose a tempo that works well in both half time and normal time so you can write elongated phrases at the faster tempo and then change to the correct feel without changing tempo. This is just all technique at this point though. Either way can work.

Why is 7/8, to me, the most flexible? Because you are dealing with the absence and/or addition of that 1/8 note duration. That one 1/8 note is what separates us from a straight time feel of 3/4(6/8) or 4/4. That means you have options when needing to hit your marks without adjusting tempo. How you musically frame your phrases is what matters in terms of keeping the music sounding like makes sense though, haha.

Now, because I consider 7/8 to be the most flexible, I use is sparingly. I will write some sequences in 7/8 because the sense of urgency you can get from that time signature is great. It's especially fun to do a variation on the themes of the film that are in 3 or 4 and rewrite them in 7/8 too. However, sometimes you just need to keep that straight time feel thus 7/8 time signatures can come in handy as those "clutch" saving transitional measures that you drop in to hit those marks. Again, action sequences and scenes in general flow like a piece of music. They have a development and a climax and tons of visual transitions to set up cadences (visually speaking). For me, it's not difficult to figure out those key moments but it certainly took me sometime to develop a sense of how to musically hit those marks naturally to a set tempo.

That is why I find 7/8 to be the most flexible (and forgiving) meter to work in. You could make the case for 5/8 or 9/8 too but 7/8 is the only one that is 1/8 from both 3/4 and 4/4 which are arguable the most used meters out there that the masses understand and feel naturally.

Best,

Chris
 
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