List of musical works in unusual time signatures

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This is a list of musical compositions or pieces of music that have unusual time signatures. "Unusual" is here defined to be any time signature other than simple time signatures with top numerals of 2, 3, or 4 and bottom numerals of 2, 4, or 8, and compound time signatures with top numerals of 6, 9, or 12 and bottom numerals 4, 8, or 16.[1]

The conventions of musical notation typically allow for more than one written representation of a particular piece. The chosen time signature largely depends upon musical context, personal taste of the composer or transcriber, and the graphic layout on the written page. Frequently, published editions were written in a specific time signature to visually signify the tempo for slow movements in symphonies, sonatas, and concerti.

A perfectly consistent unusual metrical pattern may be notated in a more familiar time signature that does not correspond to it. For example, the Passacaglia from Britten's opera Peter Grimes consists of variations over a recurring bass line eleven beats in length but is notated in ordinary 4
4
time, with each variation lasting 2+34 bars, and therefore commencing each time one crotchet earlier in the bar than the preceding one.[2]

Upper number of 1[edit]

1
1
[edit]

1
2
[edit]

1
4
[edit]

  • Alcancías by Silvestre Revueltas. Movement II, 5 bars after rehearsal 24, second bar of rehearsal 27, first bar of rehearsal 28, third bar of rehearsal 29, one bar before 31, and one bar before 32 are all 1
    4
    .[17]
  • "The Eynsham Poacher", a traditional song; in the arrangement by Dave Pegg, most of the tune is in 12
    8
    , but the finale includes one bar of 1
    4
    .[18]
  • Mädchentotenlieder, by Bo Nilsson. Bars 20, 22–27, 33–36, 38–40, 43, 49, 51, 54, 57, 65, 76–77, 80–81, 86, 90–93, 95, 99, 103–7, 115–16, 118, 120, 122, 124, 126, 130, 134–42, 145, 153, and 158 are in 1
    4
    time.[19]
  • Metastaseis, by Iannis Xenakis. The first 103 bars are in 1
    4
    .[20]
  • Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, by Dream Theater. Third bar of rehearsal R is in 1
    4
    .[21]
  • On an Overgrown Path, by Leoš Janáček. There are isolated 1
    4
    bars in the sixth, tenth, and eleventh movements.[22]
  • Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky, the bar before rehearsal 17 is in 1
    4
    .[23]
  • Piano Sonata No. 3 by Carlos Chávez. Movement I, bars 13, 15, 19, 52, 54, and 58 are in 1
    4
    time.[24]

1
8
[edit]

1
16
[edit]

1
64
[edit]


Upper number of 2[edit]

2
1
[edit]

2
16
[edit]

 { \new PianoStaff << \new Staff \relative c'' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \clef treble \tempo 8 = 126 \time 3/16 r16 <d c a fis d>\f-! r16\fermata | \time 2/16 r <d c a fis d>-! \time 3/16 r <d c a fis d>8-! | r16 <d c a fis d>8-! | \time 2/8 <d c a fis>16-! <e c bes g>->-![ <cis b aes f>-! <c a fis ees>-!] } \new Staff \relative c { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \clef bass \time 3/16 d,16-! <bes'' ees,>-! r\fermata | \time 2/16 <d,, d,>-! <bes'' ees,>-! | \time 3/16 d16-! <ees cis>8-! | r16 <ees cis>8-! | \time 2/8 d16\sf-! <ees cis>-!->[ <d c>-! <d c>-!] } >> }

Upper number of 3[edit]

3
1
[edit]

3
16
[edit]

3
32
[edit]

Upper number of 4[edit]

4
16
[edit]

Upper number of 5[edit]

Upper number of 6[edit]

6
2
[edit]

Upper number of 7[edit]

Upper number of 8[edit]

Note: 8
4
or 8
8
may refer to an evenly divided compound duple or quadruple meter. While this is arguably extremely common in music, the notations 8
4
and 8
8
themselves are not, so all divisions of this time signature are listed here

8
4
[edit]

8
8
[edit]

8
16
[edit]

Upper number of 9[edit]

Time signatures that group nine beats into 3+3+3 are very common in music. This section only lists other groupings, such as 2+3+2+2.

9
4
[edit]

9
8
[edit]

9
32
[edit]

Upper number of 10[edit]

10
4
[edit]

10
8
[edit]

10
16
[edit]

Upper number of 11[edit]

11
4
[edit]

11
8
[edit]

Upper number of 12[edit]

12
32
[edit]

Upper number of 13[edit]

13
4
[edit]

13
8
[edit]

13
16
[edit]

Upper number of 14[edit]

14
4
[edit]

Upper number of 15[edit]

15
8
[edit]

15
16
[edit]

Upper number of 17[edit]

17
4
[edit]

17
8
[edit]

  • "The Hole Pt. 1" by Noisia is described by the band as being "more or less [in] 17
    8
    ".[170]
  • Sketch, Op. 1, No. 6, by Alexei Stanchinsky (17
    8
    , written as 4
    8
    + 4
    8
    + 5
    8
    + 4
    8
    , but with the 17
    8
    time signature written as well).[36]
  • "Trapped in the Wake of a Dream" by Mudvayne (verses in 17
    8
    )[136]

17
16
[edit]

Upper number of 18[edit]

18
8
[edit]

18
16
[edit]

Upper number of 19[edit]

19
4
[edit]

  • "33 222 1 222" by Don Ellis is in 19
    4
    .[178] Its title represents the subdivision: 3
    4
    +3
    4
    +2
    4
    +2
    4
    +2
    4
    +1
    4
    +2
    4
    +2
    4
    +2
    4
    [179]

19
8
[edit]

19
16
[edit]

Upper number between 20 and 29[edit]

20[edit]

21[edit]

  • "The Art Of Dying" by Gojira (2008) cycles from 4
    4
    to 2
    4
    to 21
    16
    (grouped 5+5+5+3+3) and repeats this pattern during the intro and beginning of the song.[185]
  • "Deux moulins" by Claude Le Jeune, published in Airs a III. IIII. V. et VI. parties (première livre, 1608). The first two sections, Rechant à 3 and Réprise à 5, are barred as 21
    4
    ; the last section of the piece is in 20
    4
    .[183]
  • In the Dead of the Night suite by U.K., "contains an instrumental refrain in 21
    16
    ".[141]
  • "Keep It Greasy" by Frank Zappa on Joe's Garage (the first verse, some bridges and the guitar solo are counted in 19
    16
    and the second verse is in 21
    16
    ).[143]
  • Sonata for Cello and Piano (1948), by Elliott Carter, includes 21
    32
    time.[186]
  • Master of Puppets by Metallica features measures that can be interpreted as 21
    32
    .[187]

22[edit]

24[edit]

25[edit]

29[edit]

Upper number between 30 and 39[edit]

30[edit]

31[edit]

32[edit]

33[edit]

35[edit]

  • "Entertain Me" by Tigran Hamasyan contains a repeating melody in 35
    16
    , overlayed on top of the main 256
    32
    meter.[151]
  • "Nairian Odyssey" by Tigran Hamasyan contains a solo section in 35
    16
    , divided variously as 6
    4
    + 5
    16
    + 3
    8
    and 6
    16
    + 8
    16
    + 6
    16
    + 9
    16
    + 6
    16
    .[198]

Upper number between 40 and 49[edit]

42[edit]

43[edit]

47[edit]

Upper number between 50 and 59[edit]

53[edit]

Upper number more than 59[edit]

256[edit]

  • "Entertain Me" by Tigran Hamasyan is in 256
    32
    , with a repeating motif in 35
    16
    laid over it.[151]

Fractional time signatures[edit]

Irrational time signatures[edit]

Combined unusual signatures[edit]

  • "O cachorrinho de borracha" (The Little Rubber Dog), No. 4 from A prole do bebe No. 2 by Heitor Villa-Lobos mixes 11
    8
    , 13
    8
    , 5
    4
    , and 8
    4
    with the usual signatures 3
    4
    and 4
    4
    .[221][222]
  • "Firth of Fifth": Introduction, by Tony Banks of Genesis, mixes duple and quadruple meters with 13
    16
    and 15
    16
    signatures.[223]
  • "I Say a Little Prayer" by Dionne Warwick uses two measures of 4
    4
    , one measure of 10
    4
    and two measures of 4
    4
    for verses and 11
    4
    for its chorus.[224]
  • "I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood", by 65daysofstatic switches between 6
    4
    and 5
    4
    .[225]
  • Klavierstück IX (1954–55/61) by Karlheinz Stockhausen uses 21
    8
    , 34
    8
    , 42
    8
    , 87
    8
    , and 142
    8
    .[226]
  • Anyone Who Had a Heart, by Burt Bacharach uses 4
    4
    , 5
    4
    , and 7
    8
    .[227]
  • Thrak by King Crimson switches between 5
    8
    , and 7
    8
    throughout the head section.[228]
  • Zeitmaße by Karlheinz Stockhausen uses 1
    2
    , 1
    8
    , 1
    16
    , 2
    16
    , 2
    32
    , 3
    16
    , 3
    32
    , 4
    16
    , 8
    8
    , 8
    32
    , 11
    16
    , 12
    32
    , 17
    32
    , 23
    32
    , and 30
    32
    .[90][229]
  • 20 Caprices and Rhythmic Studies by Émile Jaques-Dalcroze.[230]
    • No. 1 has 10
      8
      .
    • No. 2 has 5
      4
      .
    • No. 3 has 5
      8
      , 5
      16
      , 7
      16
      , 8
      8
      , 8
      16
      , 9
      16
      (5+4), 10
      16
      , 11
      16
      , 14
      16
      , 15
      8
      , 15
      16
      , 18
      16
      , and 24
      16
      .
    • No. 4 has 10
      4
      , 10
      8
      , 11
      8
      , and 16
      8
      .
    • No. 5 has 8
      16
      and 16
      16
      .
    • No. 6 has 7
      8
      , 8
      8
      , 15
      8
      , and 18
      8
      .
    • No. 8 has 5
      8
      , 7
      8
      , 8
      8
      , and 10
      8
      .
    • No. 9 has 1
      8
      , 5
      8
      , 7
      8
      , 8
      8
      , 10
      8
      , and 15
      8
      .
    • No. 10 has 3
      16
      , 4
      16
      , 7
      16
      , and 8
      16
      .
    • No. 11 has 5
      8
      , 7
      8
      , 8
      8
      , 10
      8
      , 20
      16
      , and 24
      16
      (written as 8
      eighth note.
      ).
    • No. 15 has 5
      8
      , 7
      8
      , 8
      8
      , and 9
      8
      (beamed 2+2+2+3).
    • No. 16 has 7
      16
      , 8
      16
      , 10
      16
      , 11
      16
      , 13
      16
      , 14
      16
      (7
      8
      ), and 15
      16
      .
    • No. 17 has 7
      8
      .
    • No. 19 has 7
      8
      , 8
      8
      , 9
      8
      (beamed 2+2+2+3), and 10
      8
      .
    • No. 20 has 8
      8
      , 15
      16
      , 18
      16
      , 20
      16

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Ian Waugh first lists 2
    2
    , 2
    4
    , 2
    8
    , 3
    2
    , 3
    4
    , 3
    8
    , 4
    2
    , 4
    4
    , 4
    8
    , 6
    4
    , 6
    8
    , 6
    16
    , 9
    4
    , 9
    8
    , 9
    16
    , 12
    4
    , 12
    8
    , and 12
    16
    (Waugh 2003, 76), then says "we've listed all the popular time signatures" (Waugh 2003, 77).
  2. ^ Britten 1945b.
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  4. ^ "Symphony No. 2 (Borodin, Aleksandr) – IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  5. ^ Copland 1945, 56–59.
  6. ^ "Decet for Winds, Op.14 (Enescu, George) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  7. ^ "5 Pieces, Op.23 (Schoenberg, Arnold) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Káťa Kabanová (Janáček, Leoš) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  9. ^ (PDF) http://cnks.imslp.org/files/imglnks/usimg/4/46/IMSLP99159-PMLP200270-Couperin_-_Pieces_de_clavecin_Bk3.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "8 Nocturnes, FP 56 (Poulenc, Francis) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Piano Sonata No.5, Op.53 (Scriabin, Aleksandr) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Quartet, Op.22 (Webern, Anton) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Rapsodie nègre, FP 3 (Poulenc, Francis) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  14. ^ "String Quartet No.1, Sz.40 (Bartók, Béla) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  15. ^ "Symphony No.1, Op.55 (Elgar, Edward) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Symphony No.17, Op.41 (Myaskovsky, Nikolay) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download". imslp.org. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  17. ^ Revueltas 1971, 32, 34–38.
  18. ^ Allcock, Maartin, ed. (1998). Fairport Convention Songbook 2. Woodworm Music. pp. 56–59.
  19. ^ a b c Nilsson 1958, 3–15.
  20. ^ "Iannis Xenakis - Metastaseis (B)". boosey.com. Boosey & Hawkes. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  21. ^ Dream Theater Keyboard Anthology. Transcribed by Chris Romero and Jordan Baker 2004, 30.
  22. ^ a b "Error".
  23. ^ "Petrushka (Stravinsky, Igor) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download".
  24. ^ Chávez 1972, 3–4.
  25. ^ a b "Lincolnshire Posy (Grainger, Percy) - IMSLP". IMSLP. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
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  27. ^ Chávez 1972, 12.
  28. ^ "Error".
  29. ^ "A Headache And A Sixty-Fourth". Archived from the original on 11 May 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  30. ^ a b c Read 1964, 158.
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  34. ^ Alkan n.d. (ca.1861),[page needed].
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  44. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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    32
    time. . . ."
  46. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 February 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  47. ^ Revueltas 1958, 3–15.
  48. ^ Brahms 1928 Archived 11 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 78–79, 79–80.
  49. ^ https://imslp.nl/imglnks/usimg/2/2a/IMSLP08431-Brahms_-_Variations_Op.9_-_Sauer.pdf[permanent dead link]
  50. ^ Holst 1977, 4–6, 18–19, 23–24, 27–30.
  51. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (8 March 2019). "17 Essential Songs In 7/4". Retrieved 31 October 2021./
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  53. ^ Dethalbum III Authentic Guitar TAB, transcribed by Jordan Baker. 2013, 10[full citation needed]
  54. ^ Ligeti 1995, 9, b. 28.
  55. ^ Stravinsky 1970, 99.
  56. ^ a b Andriessen 1976, 1–4, 82–88, 90, 92, 95–97, 99, 119.
  57. ^ Britten 1946, 14–15.
  58. ^ Davies 1985, 48–49.
  59. ^ Bartók 1993, 72.
  60. ^ Stravinsky 1958, 11–12 and 19.
  61. ^ Britten 1941, 30–32.
  62. ^ Bernstein 1950, 48, 52–54.
  63. ^ Bartók 1940, 6:45–48.
  64. ^ Bartók 1940, 6:51–55.
  65. ^ "36 Fugues pour Piano, Op.36 (Reicha, Anton)". IMSLP. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  66. ^ Bartók 1937, 1–5, 7–8, 10.
  67. ^ Bartók 1937, 130–33.
  68. ^ Stravinsky n.d., 11–12.
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  72. ^ Davies 1985, 202.
  73. ^ Birtwistle 1996, 6–7 and 9.
  74. ^ Stravinsky 1962, 54, 56, 58, 60–61, 63, and 66.
  75. ^ Stravinsky 1924, 50.
  76. ^ Stravinsky 1967, 19.
  77. ^ Dream Theater Black Clouds and Silver Linings Authentic Guitar TAB, transcribed by Jordan Baker. 2009, 138
  78. ^ Hughey, Jesse (17 November 2010). "Last Night: Wolf Parade and Ogre You Asshole At Granada Theater". Dallas Observer. Archived from the original on 4 August 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  79. ^ "Music theory of Bill Wurtz: Asymmetrical meter in "I Wanna Be a Movie Star"| bennorton.com". 30 September 2017.
  80. ^ Seconds Out Songbook 1978 Wise Publications
  81. ^ a b Gable 2009, 91.
  82. ^ Dryden, Ken. " Blue Rondo a la Turk", Allmusic: "unusual time signature of 9
    8
    ".
  83. ^ "The Crunge – Led Zeppelin – Drum Sheet Music | OnlineDrummer.com". Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  84. ^ Ginastera 1955, 17–20.
  85. ^ Bartók 1940, 6:35–38.
  86. ^ Bartók 1940, 6:48–50.
  87. ^ Page 1989.
  88. ^ Beck, Jeff (2010). Jeff Beck – Blow by Blow. Guitar Recorded Versions. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4234-9443-0.
  89. ^ Riccio 2017, "VROOOM VROOOM", measure 49
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  92. ^ Banks 2009.
  93. ^ "The Eleven and Other Rhythmic Oddities (Grateful Dead)". Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  94. ^ a b Dreiblats 2013.
  95. ^ Bennett 2014
  96. ^ Britten 1946, 14.
  97. ^ a b Hail the Sun (19 February 2013). "Testostyrannosaurus.pdf" (PDF). Hail the Sun. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  98. ^ Liner notes to The Mason Williams Phonograph Record Warner Brothers LP, WS 1729. Burbank: Warner Brothers-Seven Arts Records, 1968.
  99. ^ Dave, Brubeck (4 June 2007). "Unisphere". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  100. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  101. ^ Pollack, Alan (1997). "Notes on "Happiness Is A Warm Gun"". Notes on...
  102. ^ Yanni (1993). The Best of Yanni; 11 selections from his top recordings. Hal Leonard Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 9780793517091.
  103. ^ Bars 2–5 are in 10
    8
    time (Stravinsky 1958, 52).
  104. ^ Eddie 2007, 62.
  105. ^ Terentyev, Savva; Hamasyan, Tigran (March 2018). "Tigran Hamasyan, Three Piano Pieces". Terentyev Publisher. Archived from the original on 15 March 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  106. ^ "Ask YES – Friday 26th April 2013 – Chris Squire". 29 April 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  107. ^ Le Jeune 1951–59, 2:85–88.
  108. ^ Jisi, Chris (2012). "Esperanza Spalding: E-Harmony". Archived from the original on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  109. ^ Hail the Sun (13 January 2013). "Eight Ball, Coroner's Pocket.pdf" (PDF). Hail the Sun. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  110. ^ Howard Brubeck (ed.), Dave Brubeck Deluxe Piano Album, (San Francisco: Derry Music Co., 1965), pp. 22–28.
  111. ^ J. A. Fuller Maitland and W. Barclay Squire (eds.), The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, vol. 2 (Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1899; reprinted New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1963), 34–39.
  112. ^ "In Nomine à 4, FVB 119 (Bull, John)".
  113. ^ Nilsson 1958, 7.
  114. ^ Poe, Randy (20 September 2006). Skydog: The Duane Allman Story. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-87930-891-9. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  115. ^ Villa-Lobos 1969, 3–18.
  116. ^ "The Daily Vault Music Reviews". Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  117. ^ "Lindy Morrison – The Music Show, ABC Radio National". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 June 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  118. ^ Primus (musical group), Primus Anthology: A thru N: For Guitar and Bass, transcribed by Jeff Jacobsen (New York: Cherry Lane Music, 2000), 17–20. ISBN 1575601540.
  119. ^ Fripp, Robert (1 April 2020). "Bredonborough". Archived from the original on 15 March 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2021. Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With is very nicely in 11/8 which fits the music and Adrian’s particularly upbeat American take on that’s life! that’s fate! and c’est la vie.
  120. ^ Pollack 1999.
  121. ^ Pedler 2003, p. 555.
  122. ^ "The meters of these three measures are 11
    8
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  227. ^ Serene Dominic (2003). Burt Bacharach, song by song. ISBN 9780857122599. Bacharach was now calling the shots, and anyone covering this tune after it became a monster hit would grudgingly have to switch from 5/4 to 4/4 and 7/8.
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