Tips & Tricks of the Trade // Music Fundamentals - Time Signatures - Practical Use Cases



Time Signatures - Practical Use Cases
- 1 September 2016

Spice Up the Common Time
Say you have a great arrangement that is on a 4/4 time signature. You love it, yet you sense that in its current state it does not have enough creative interest to make your audience click on the repeat button. You could use basic maths to off-set a few elements without breaking the song.

For instance:
In primary school we were taught that if fractions had different denominators you could not execute addition or subtraction operations on them.. E.g. 3/4 and 4/4 are 2 fractions which if you wanted to work on them you would first have to get them into a common denominator = 12!

Your song is on 4/4; while the rhythm section could happily sit on this time signature, you could get your harmonies to run on the 3/4 time interval. Both your rhythm section and your harmonies would always ‘meet’ on the 12th beat of each time interval. Instantly, you have a creative goal you can now work toward.

Equally, you could set your rhythm section on a 6/8 whilst your harmonies remain on the 4/4. Yet again, the twain would intersect on the 12th beat.

Go ahead, test it out and have some fun. Don’t forget to integrate syncopated alternatives into your rhythm section to further push that artistic flare.

So keep looking for interesting opportunities where basic maths can provide you with creative goals to work toward. Yet always remember to keep things musical and pleasant.

Phew!! All this technical talk has been nothing but treble to my head ;)

- written by MegaMidas
Musician at Africappella

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