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Thread: Relationship of time signatures, notation akd rhythm

  1. #1
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
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    Default Relationship of time signatures, notation akd rhythm

    Hello. I have been really busy and haven't posted here for a while.

    I have never put much thought on drums in my compositions (drummer decides...) But I could help him out at least by setting the time signatures straight...

    I have couple of questions related to this I couldn't find answer for:

    If I have pattern that fits in 4/4, but consist mostly 8 and 16th notes without any emphasis on the beat in 4/4, should I change the signature? 4/8?

    In general does the used note durations really have impact on time signature or is it just drumming dynamics composer wants that determines it? What if those two promote different time signatures?

    And probably the most dumb question... How do you actually determine or define "beat" in composition? When the instruments change emphasized notes/chords along with the progression? Do I just need to leave it open and see what drummer comes up with. And then set the time signature?

    Or am I looking this in a completely wrong way and the question is not "what kind of time signature is this?", but "What kind of rhythm I want drums to have in this composition?".
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  2. #2
    Darkness on the edge of Tone TwilightOdyssey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relationship of time signatures, notation akd rhythm

    Ultimately it is up to you to determine what the time signature of the part is. Don't think in terms of "kick" and "snare" drums, think in terms of pulses, divisions of that pulse, and syncopations. The time signature informs the performers how many accents are in a single measure in relation to the pulse.
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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relationship of time signatures, notation akd rhythm

    It can be written either way. I might try both, and look to see what is easier to read, and what gives you a better idea of how the music goes.
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    Super Toneologist VinceT's Avatar
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    Default Relationship of time signatures, notation akd rhythm

    Two separate parts to the answer, for me at least.

    Time signature is all about where the pulse falls. So, your 4/8 might sound like a fast 2/4 or a slow 8/16, depending on if you hear 2, 4 or 8 pulses before the cycle starts again.

    Where this really comes into play for me is not with a live drummer - I’ll cover that in a moment - but when using a DAW to automate anything. I’ve often recorded in one signature (I use Logic’s automated drummer function a LOT) then found that I’m playing in another - particularly when it comes to pseudo-triplets and 6/8, 12/8, etc. I mostly take these as polyrhythmic “gifts” rather than going back and restarting!

    Now, onto feel. I’ve been blessed to play with many fantastic drummers throughout over 40 years of playing, and I can state categorically two things:

    1) not a single one has wanted, asked for, or used written parts

    2) each one has been a musician in his/her own right, and didn’t need a guitarist telling them where the beat should fall

    That said, it’s essential as a songwriter/band mate/producer of a great drummer to understand what “push”, “pull”, “force”, “pocket”, etc. mean for THAT drummer.

    Yes, it is possible to tabulate every aspect of the drums, just as it is for guitar parts - and for pro/pit sessions that may be the norm - but for live playing, would you use tab and try to recreate every trem move, flutter, finger vibrato, slur, etc. that was written on the tab?

    My last drummer needed to know the songs well enough to sing while he was playing (not on a mic, just singing along) as soon as he could do that, he could lose his conscious mind and ALL his expression would come out. Songs would sound slightly different each time, but slightly BETTER each time. To me, that’s what music is all about, not the perfection of a written chart




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  5. #5
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relationship of time signatures, notation akd rhythm

    Thanks. Good info you all.

    Surely I'm not even attempting to tell drummer how to play. Just struggling with decision what time signature to use for the piece.

    As you probably figured, I don't have drums and can't really play them other than some very simple standards. So I can't think a musical piece from drummers point of view. That's kind of the point I was trying to ask: How would I pick the time signature so we both would have same idea how it sounds.

    We can squeeze about one session in week to play so having same idea from the start would greatly help with time constraints.
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