Learn about Rhythm
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
or 5/4 = 3 beats + 2 beats
7/4 = 2 beats + 2 beats + 3 beats
or 7/4 = 3 beats + 2 beats + 2 beats
or 7/4 = 2 beats + 3 beats + 2 beats
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.
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.