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Lesson 19: Introduction to Odd Meter

Practice PatternsLesson 19 Practice Patterns

 

5/4 and 7/4 Time Signatures

This lesson is an introduction to what is often referred to as odd meter. In odd meter there are an odd number of beats (excluding 3 beats) in each measure. We will begin with 5/4 and 7/4. Since the bottom number of each of these time signatures is 4, we know that the quarter note is equal to one beat. The top numbers tell us that 5/4 has five beats per measure, and 7/4 has seven beats per measure.

Odd meter time signatures often represent music which can be divided into different beat patterns in each measure. Here are examples of the beat patterns for these time signatures. The top numbers show each beat of the measure, and the bottom numbers in italics show the grouping of beats within the measure.

5/4 = 2 beats + 3 beats
5/4 time signature with a 2 + 3 subdivision of the measure

 


or 5/4 = 3 beats + 2 beats
5/4 time signature with a 3 + 2 subdivision of the measure

 

 

 


7/4 = 2 beats + 2 beats + 3 beats
7/4 time signature with a 2 + 2 + 3 subdivision of the measure

 


or 7/4 = 3 beats + 2 beats + 2 beats
7/4 signature time with a 3 + 2 + 2 subdivision of the measure

 


or 7/4 = 2 beats + 3 beats + 2 beats
7/4 time signature with a 2 + 3 + 2 subdivision of the measure

 

In odd meters we have the option of counting every single beat: “1 2 3 4 5,” or counting the subdivision of each measure: “1 2 1 2 3” or “1 2 3 1 2.” I recommend subdividing the measures into smaller groups of two or three beats, but whichever method you choose, make sure to keep a steady beat and hold each note for the proper length. Read the odd meter practice tips section for more help on how to play in these time signatures.

Since the quarter note is equal to one beat in these time signatures, the beat is subdivided into two equal parts with eighth notes and four equal parts with sixteenth notes, as shown below.

Example of how to subdivide the beat in odd meters

 

 

 

Practice SuggestionsLesson 19 Practice Suggestions

Practice PatternsLesson 19 Practice Patterns

 

Odd meter examples and practice patterns for Lesson 19

 

Learn how to play in odd meter time signatures with an eighth note beat in Lesson 20.

Write your own rhythms and music compositions! Get free blank staff paper at www.music-paper.com.

 

 

Get the Book

The Fundamentals of Rhythm, book by Kyle Coughlin

Fundamentals of Rhythm book

If you would like all of this information in book format so that you can put it on your music stand and practice it wherever you go, get The Fundamentals of Rhythm, by Kyle Coughlin. The book includes all of the lesson information and practice exercises found on the website.

 

Use MetronomeBot for a fun online metronome!

MetronomeBot, the talking online metronome
The online metronome that counts the beat, subdivides, and offers encouraging practice tips.

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