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Examples of Odd Time Signatures

Cameron, in Music insights
Jan 13, 2022 | 3 min read

Understanding odd meters and time signatures can be difficult without having music that demonstrates these concepts. Just practicing exercises is not enough to fully grasp this topic – you have to listen to real music as well. So with that in mind, here are some great examples of songs that utilize odd time signatures.

Pink Floyd – Money 

This classic song by Pink Floyd utilizes a 7/4 time signature. The odd time keeps the song moving forward and gives it a heightened sense of urgency befitting the lyrics. Pay attention to the drum beat and how it complements the main riff. 

Billy Joel – Piano Man

One of the most popular songs of all time, Billy Joel’s Piano Man is written in ¾, with a heavy accent on the one. This time signature gives the song a waltz-like feel.

Dave Matthews Band – Seven

As its name suggests, this song is in 7/4 time. It actually starts off in 4/4 before switching to odd time, which gives it a more unique feel.

Rush – Tom Sawyer

It goes without saying that odd time signatures are frequently used in Rush’s work. Tom Sawyer is one of their most well-known songs, and the instrumental makes use of a ⅞ time signature.

The Beatles – All You Need Is Love

This popular Beatles song utilizes a 7/4 time signature, with the verse alternating between 4/4 and ¾.

Gorillaz – 5/4

5/4 is an even less common time signature than 7/4, but it sometimes still finds its way into popular music. This Gorillaz song is a good example of this. 

While most pop music is in 4/4 time, there are many great examples of odd time signatures being incorporated into popular songs. In fact, some of the best odd time signature songs are the ones where the listener doesn’t even notice they are in odd time. Using a less common time signature can make a song feel unique, and doesn’t necessarily have to make a song overly technical or less catchy, and we hope that the above examples help demonstrate this. We encourage musicians of all skill levels to listen to, and experiment with all types of time signatures in their playing.

Want more on this topic? Read our guide on how to identify time signatures by ear here.

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