Can anybody decipher this odd time please?

supermac

Senior Member
I'm usually OK at working out odd times, but this is proving challenging.

It's a track by the late-70s British jazz fusion band Brand X featuring Phil Collins on drums - before he became "commercial".

I think it's a very fast 9/8, but can't quite get a hold on it.

The odd time comes in at around 50 seconds.

Any ideas?

Cheers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOLmTsZ0YSw
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
It seems like a weird combo of 4/4 and also 9/8... I think it's a mix... I hear the main theme in 9, but for some parts that doesn't come out in 9 to my ear.
 

porter

Platinum Member
I counted through the whole thing – it's simply a very fast 9/8 (4+5, or in 16ths, 4+4+3+3+2+2) until 3:14 where it goes for 4/4 for the rest of the song. Real sheddy track. Reminds me of Ed Soph playing La Fiesta a bit in that regard.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
I think you win the cigar. I've gone over the section from 0:54 to about 3:16 a bunch of times and that seems to be the best way to count it.

It's funny; Product and Moroccan Roll are my favorite Brand X albums. But I never paid attention to the time signatures in them.
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Ohhhhh that's awesome!!!! I love this track. I see why it's so hard to figure out the meter because it's crossing. The marimba and bass part is playing different meter than the drums.... (By this I mean they seem to move from up feeling to down feeling, like a samba or reggae, while the drums move the reverse) They are taking up the same 9 beats but they are weaving across each other. Great stuff. I'd need to really sit down with a pencil and paper for a bit to really figure it out. Wonderful feel.

It is in 5 for the second half.
 

porter

Platinum Member
Where are y'all hearing mixed meter in this thing? For me it's a pretty clear, steady time until it changes to 4/4 as I mentioned.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Where are y'all hearing mixed meter in this thing? For me it's a pretty clear, steady time until it changes to 4/4 as I mentioned.

I count as the notes of the bassline are right on the beat. There's an extra 8th note which simply goes away on the next section. It has slightly different feel to it compared to the west coast stuff I usually listen to, but the concept is a very common way to do it. They don't play it completely stiff, which is a good thing.

Quite similar to this thing in 11 where they cut an 8th note on the second part instead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thgUSDh8zHQ

I wrote a song once myself in 21(5+5+5+6) with the same way of thinking. The phrases of the melody went over two periods though, so people would get fooled by the "overriding effect." Or completely confused, depending on who they were.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It's 4/4+10/8, actually-- with the 10/8 phrased 3+3+2+2/8. Or you could just think of it as 4/4+5/4, with that dotted-quarter rhythm in the second measure.

If you listen closely, there are six short notes and two long ones. The short notes are quarter notes, and the long ones are dotted quarters:

||: S S S S | L- L- S S :||

I've attached a file of the groove slowed down and looped-- check it out...
 

Attachments

porter

Platinum Member
It's 4/4+10/8, actually-- with the 10/8 phrased 3+3+2+2/8. Or you could just think of it as 4/4+5/4, with that dotted-quarter rhythm in the second measure.

If you listen closely, there are six short notes and two long ones. The short notes are quarter notes, and the long ones are dotted quarters:

||: S S S S | L- L- S S :||

I've attached a file of the groove slowed down and looped-- check it out...
This is how I hear it too, hence:

porter said:
9/8 (4+5, or in 16ths, 4+4+3+3+2+2)
By the way, that's a vibraphone, not a marimba.

Youtube has built in variable speed now, so we can actually listen to the whole thing at half speed on there. Just click on the gear icon, then "speed", then 0.5. Maybe that will elucidate it. It helps to tap along to the beat as well, ONE two THREE four FIVE six seven eight nine repeat.

They play with it and get tricky right after the 3 minute mark but if you just count consistently you'll find it all matches up until they change to 4/4 at 3:14.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Yes, Porter & Todd. I hear it now (thanks to the magic of YouTube speed changer).

At the normal speed I was getting tripped up. I was hearing it as two lopsided cycles adding up to 17. This was by counting the first cycle of as 8 and the second cycle as 9 (the way I imagine Odd-Arne heard it). But I mistakenly cut the 1st cycle short.

The thing is, I felt it the first few times as a phrase, which turns out to be the 4/4 + 10/8 as Todd describes (with the 10 section being subdivided as 3+3+2+2). Not that I counted it out; it was just a phrase. But I didn't really trust it. Now it makes sense (until someone else comes along and topples the apple cart).

(And for what it's worth, to really break it down in my mind, I worked the whole cycle of 9 as: 1---2---3---4---1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-1-2-)
 
Last edited:
Top