Argument with Guitarist over time signature

PDL

Senior Member
I play in a number of bands currently.

One band we are learning new songs, and one song has a rather tricky intro which I can't play well so I am improvising at the moment. The guitarist has queried it and I explained I can't play 6/8 time double bass at 260 bpm, with quarter note ride/snare etc. To which his answer was it's not 6/8 it's 4/4... The intro is basically 12 note triplets on the double kick with ride on 1 and 4 and snare on 4 so something like this:

R Kick - Ride
L Kick
R Kick
L Kick - Ride/snare
R Kick
L Kick

I make this either 6/8 or 12/8 both of which are compound; which I went on to explain to him. Well I may have well of been talking French.

His reply was "no no my editing software says 4/4"
I explained everything is in 4/4 at a very very high level, I was speaking French again...
He then asked me to play staight notes on the snare which I did, then he says "See I told you it's 4 time, just staight notes"
My reply was "yes compound time is staight notes grouped in three for each quarter note, without the ride and snare you have 12 staight note, when you add the ride and snare on 1 and 4 it becomes compound triplets" and again I think I was talking French.

I then played 4/4 below:

R Kick - Ride
L Kick
R Kick - Ride/Snare
L Kick

At this point the bass player backed me up and said that the triplet feel felt like the right pattern not the 4/4 feel. I then played the song on the toms slowly, the guitarist counted 4 and 1...errr WTF. I then gave up.

So what do I do, as he is being a knob. I even asked him to count the number of bass drum hits per bar (Which is 12) so six per 2 qtr beats, he didn't count 6 he counted 4. IT HIS FECKIN SONG FOR GODS SAKE!!!
 
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Arky

Platinum Member
Re: Arguement with Guitarist over time signature

Personally I don't really understand why there's a problem viewing that pattern as triplets in a 4/4 context. I wouldn't prefer 12/8 measure but triplets, but that's just me.

As for guitarists... One of my best friends has written half a dozen full length metal albums over the years (pretty good stuff actually but waiting in the drawer to be recorded finally) and I learned it's completely pointless to argue about time signatures with him. We're both using GuitarPro (although he prefers v5, I like v6 more) and I've tried a hundred times to explain to him why this and that time signature would be the correct one to use for notation but he keeps doing things exactly the other way round, telling that this is 'easier' for him when doing the transcription/arrangements. So I stopped even trying. ---> Maybe accept the fact that arguing with guitarists can be a waste of time ;-) (Guitarist myself here, haha.)

The thing I kept coming back to was identifying the quarter notes and building from there. If it's a binary system, that would be 8th/16th etc., if it's ternary - the triplet version.
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
It is 4/4!

4 lots of triplets = 12 notes

1 trip-let
2 trip-let
3 trip-let
4 trip-let

I presume you are counting

1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6

So it is also 6/8

you say tomato he says apple!
 

PDL

Senior Member
It is 4/4!

4 lots of triplets = 12 notes

1 trip-let
2 trip-let
3 trip-let
4 trip-let

I presume you are counting

1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6

So it is also 6/8

you say tomato he says apple!
Oh dear back to school for you.

Grouped 8th note triplets is compound time. It can only ever be 6/8 stop guessing at this stuff and do some research
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
I can see how you got into an argument PDL

You are arguing about the same thing. He feels it in 4 you feel it in 6/8 or 12
Both of you are right

If you play 5s on the bottom does it make the time 20/16?

What are the other instruments doing? That would also influence the overall time signature.

Try and to not get touchy with other members man. When you need help we are going to be less likely to want to.

D
 
Technically they're only triplets if you're playing them in 4/4 time. Triplets of any sort in compound time would not work as you've described.

Anyway, from only hearing the description of the drum part it does sound like the song is in compound time. However, the time signature of the whole song I'd say depends on how the other instruments play over the top of your drum beat. If they're usually playing notes between say your second and third, or fifth and sixth bass drum notes then the song would be considered to be in 4/4, and you're playing triplets on the bass. But, if the melody and rhythms line up with bass drum notes, you're playing straight 8ths on the bass and the song is in compound time.
 

PDL

Senior Member
I can see how you got into an argument PDL

You are arguing about the same thing. He feels it in 4 you feel it in 6/8 or 12
Both of you are right

If you play 5s on the bottom does it make the time 20/16?

What are the other instruments doing? That would also influence the overall time signature.

D
Dave I see you have yourself down as a pro, I am suprised by your answer.
6/8 is six 8th notes per bar, so it is a count of 2, three 8th notes per count.
1,2,3 - 1,2,3
This is how the song rhythm goes for both guitar, bass and kick. Only it is 12 notes over a 4 count but still in essance 6/8.
4/4 would give a completley different feel, there are no groups of three in 4/4.

Are you sure you're a pro?
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
Dave I see you have yourself down as a pro, I am suprised by your answer.
6/8 is six 8th notes per bar, so it is a count of 2, three 8th notes per count.
1,2,3 - 1,2,3
This is how the song rhythm goes for both guitar, bass and kick. Only it is 12 notes over a 4 count but still in essance 6/8.
4/4 would give a completley different feel, there are no groups of three in 4/4.

Are you sure you're a pro?
don't criticize anyone on here, your the one who cant play the part!
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
Dave I see you have yourself down as a pro, I am suprised by your answer.
6/8 is six 8th notes per bar, so it is a count of 2, three 8th notes per count.
1,2,3 - 1,2,3
This is how the song rhythm goes for both guitar, bass and kick. Only it is 12 notes over a 4 count but still in essance 6/8.
4/4 would give a completley different feel, there are no groups of three in 4/4.

Are you sure you're a pro?
I am a pro yes - I make my living playing music.
Being a pro has never been defined by knowledge of theory otherwise greats such as Buddy wouldn't be classed as pros.

I understand your point but I also understand how the guitarist could feel it in 4. If he was playing it wrong then that's a separate issue but if he and the whole band are playing the correct parts and the song sounds good then who gives a crap what the correct time signature is.
 
I'd also like to point out something that indicates you might be confused about this yourself.

The guitarist has queried it and I explained I can't play 6/8 time double bass at 260 bpm, with quarter note ride/snare etc.
If the ride/snare was each quarter note then you'd have 3 in a bar of 6/8, or to put it another way, two bass hits for each ride/snare. This would indicate a 3/4 time signature.

It's clear from context what you mean, but when you're using terms like triplet and quarter note when trying to describe the feel of a 6/8 beat then I'm not sure you're understanding your own argument.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I'm not sure if there's a right and wrong.

It's musically the same, just notated differently.

/pro
 
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SgtThump

Platinum Member
Dave I see you have yourself down as a pro, I am suprised by your answer.
6/8 is six 8th notes per bar, so it is a count of 2, three 8th notes per count.
1,2,3 - 1,2,3
This is how the song rhythm goes for both guitar, bass and kick. Only it is 12 notes over a 4 count but still in essance 6/8.
4/4 would give a completley different feel, there are no groups of three in 4/4.

Are you sure you're a pro?
I don't know the answer, but I'm on your guitar players side with this. You come across as a huge jerk!
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
spend less time talking about time signatures and more time playing music

sounds like an amazingly pointless conversation and a huge waste of time
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Todays' word for the day boys and girls is gracious. Try being gracious when asking for help. Thank you class.
 
Well it always comes back to the same argument. It doesn't matter what time signature it's in because it sounds the same anyway. You could technically notate it as 6/8, as 12/8, as 4/4 with triplets everywhere, as 2/2, 6/4, etc. etc.

However, in my opinion the time signature in practice tells you more than just how you notate the piece. It describes the feel of the rhythm and aids discussion of the piece between players. If someone says "This song is in 4/4", straight away I'm thinking 8ths on the hats/ride, bass on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4. I would not expect to be riding with 8th triplets throughout the song. If someone says "This song is in 2/2" or "This song is in cut time" what I imagine is the same beat as 4/4 but with the bass and snare twice as far apart. Someone says "This is 6/8" and that's when I bust out the rhythm described in the original post - 3 hits of the ride to each bass/snare.

If we've decided as a band that we're playing a song in 6/8 I can say "We should hit the chord for the next bar on the sixth beat of the previous bar to give it a pushed feel", which sounds better than the 4/4 equivalent of "We should hit the chord for the next bar on the 'let' of 4 of the previous bar to give it a pushed feel", mostly because non-drummers don't use that lexicon and you'll just confuse the hell out of them.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
If you take a blues shuffle in 4/4 and slow it down enough, eventually you're going to write it in 12/8. I don't see the point in the argument, just play the f***ing song.
 

rtliquid

Senior Member
Tell your guitarist it doesn't matter - the bass player is going to speed up and wreck it anyway. Then go have a beer!
 
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