Schism (song)

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For the song by Anthrax, see State of Euphoria.
Single by Tool
from the album Lateralus
Released January 15, 2001
Format Compact Disc, DVD
Recorded 2000
Genre Progressive metal
Length 6:46
Label Volcano
Producer(s) David Bottrill
Tool singles chronology
"Forty Six & 2"
Promotional cover
Cover for the promotional single of "Schism".

"Schism" is a song by American rock band Tool. It was the first single and music video from their third full-length album, Lateralus. In 2002, Tool won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for the song.[1] "Schism" was released as a DVD single on December 20, 2005. The DVD contains the music video, dual-commentary by David Yow, and a remix by Lustmord.


"Schism" is known as a prime example of Tool's use of complex rhythms and changing meters. It is also well known for its distinctive bass line at the beginning. An extended version of the song is performed live.[2] "Schism" peaked at number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the charts for 20 weeks.[3] It also hit number 2 on both the Modern Rock Tracks and Mainstream Rock Tracks charts almost hitting number 1 on both charts falling behind Staind's It's Been Awhile.

The song is featured on the video game Guitar Hero World Tour.

Time signature[edit]

Further information: Time signature (other variants)

"Schism" is renowned for its use of uncommon time signatures and the frequency of its meter changes. In one analysis of the song, the song alters meter 47 times.[4] The song begins with two bars of 5/4, followed by one bar of 4/4, followed by bars of alternating 5/8 and 7/8, until the first interlude, which consists of alternating bars of 6/8 and 7/8.

The following verse exhibits a similar pattern to the first, alternating bars of 5/8 and 7/8. The next section is bars of 6/4 followed by one bar of 11/8. This takes the song back into alternating 5/8 and 7/8. Another 6/8 and 7/8 section follows, and after this the song goes into repeating 7/8 bars.

The middle section is subsequently introduced, consisting of three bars of 6/8, one bar of 3/8, and one bar of 3/4 repeating several times. At one point it interrupts with two bars of 6/8 followed by a bar of 4/8, twice. A single bar of 4/8 is played before the meter switches back to a set of 6/8 for two bars and 2/4 for one bar. This repeats, setting up another section: two bars of 9/8 followed by a bar of 10/8, that pattern again, and then a single bar of 9/8 followed by a bar of 6/8 and then a bar of 7/8. Next is a set of two bars of 6/8 followed by a bar of 2/8 repeated four times then a single bar of 6/8. The outro has alternating bars of 5/8 and 7/8, ending with alternating 6/8, 2/8 that one could interpret as pulsing with a 4/4 feel.

The band has referred to the time signature as 6.5/8.[5] Although many composers would use 13/16 instead, 6.5/8 is still a valid fractional time signature.

Track listing[edit]

Promotional single
  1. "Schism" – 6:46
  1. "Schism" (video) – 7:29
  2. "Schism" (commentary) – 7:29
  3. "Schism" (Lustmord remix) – 20:13




  1. ^ "Grammy Award Winners". The Recording Academy. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  2. ^ Rothman, Robin (2002-08-14). "Tool Take Radio City". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  3. ^ Retrieved 2009-09-18
  4. ^ August 2001 issue of Guitar One magazine, transcribed by Adam Perlmutter
  5. ^ Wagner, Jeff (2010). Mean Deviation. Bazillion Points. pp. 312–313. ISBN 978-0-9796163-3-4.