Friday, November 07, 2003

Marking Time

For my own personal edification, I'd like to discover any (relatively non-obscure) rock or pop songs with time signatures other than 4/4. I'm not necessarily talking prog rock pond scum stuff that changes meter every couple bars just because it can, but tunes with an actual melody that moves along for a significant period in 7/8 or whatever. I have a hard time "feeling" anything besides 4/4 or 3/4 (e.g. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Mr. Bojangles") and wonder if I'm too old to improve my rhythm, so to speak. I know Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Take Five" and Jethro Tull's "Living In The Past" are supposed to be in 5/4, but untrained musician that I am, I get lost whenever I try to count the beats. One, two, many...

This may be a job for Blogcritics. Buffalo Springfield's "Down To The Wire" is an odd one; I know there's a 3/4 section, but the main verse has an unusual stop and start rhythm. IIRC, Fairport Convention's "Tam Lin" is supposed to have a variable number of beats per measure as Swarbrick, Mattacks and Thompson adjust their riffage to match the irregular traditional lyrics. Weirdnessabounds says the Toadies do a lot of stuff in weird time signatures, but I've never heard anything by them. I think Kenneth Newman used to claim he naturally falls into fives and/or sevens when he plays at the guitar, so maybe he can point me to some Gentle Giant or ELP or Genesis or something with an identifiable meter... King Crimson or Rush or somebody playing 13's over alternating sixes and sevens ain't quite what I'm looking for. At worst, I suppose I can study Brubeck's "Time Out" and "Time Further Out"...

All this comes out of the fact that we played a Tanzanian tune in 7/8 at church last week and none of us really internalized the rhythm very well. I'm not sure why, but the songs in 3/4 seem to come to me more easily than the others. It's not that I know how to waltz, it's just comfortable to strum. Perhaps there tend to be fewer chords per measure! (For some reason, the tang never did any new wave hard pop beat rock songs in anything but 4/4 back there in 1979-1981...)

UPDATE: Pink Floyd "Money" and Steeleye Span "Dark Eyed Sailor" have been mentioned as odd time signature tunes.

Also, while I'm making lists, I oughta recompile the old "Sunday Morning", "Monday Monday" "Tuesday Afternoon"... days-of-the-week song list, since I have no idea which floppy disc that's stored on anymore.

No comments: