4/4 To 5/4

Hello everyone! In this lesson I would like to do something a little different. I recently received an email from a reader named Tris from St. Louis, right from this site. He asked me to explain 4/4 time and 5/4 time and gives examples. He also asked, "If you are in 4/4 time, how can you switch time signatures and remain in time? There may be a lot of people asking the same question, so I figured I should do a lesson on this. I have some odd time signatures in my music, but a lot of it is based in 4/4.

The first thing I will do is briefly explain what 4/4 is. The top number represents the beats per measure. For example in 4/4, there are 4 beats per measure, the pulse will be 1, 2, 3, 4 and all the notes in each bar will equal to 4. If the time signature is 3/4, there will be 3 beats per measure. The bottom number tells you which note gets the beat. When there is a 4 on the bottom, the quarter note gets 1 beat, if there is a 8 on the bottom the eighth note gets a beat. For example in 3/8, there are 3 eighth notes per bar.

In Example 1, I put together a 2 bar phrase in 4/4 time that is based off the E Mixolydian scale. This phrase is played with all eighth notes and there are 8 eighth notes per bar, which equals 4 beats. You could look at this as 8/8 time, which simply means 8 eighth notes per bar.

MP3 - 4/4 To 5/4, Example 1

OK, with Example 2 we will do the same riff in 5/4. To get a measure in 5/4, you just have to add a extra quarter note to 4/4, which is just counting and math. For this example I added 2 extra eighth notes at the end to the original riff to make it in 5/4.

MP3 - 4/4 To 5/4, Example 2

Finally, for Example 3 I put together a 8 bar phrase that uses the riff we been using in the previous examples and it is switching from 4/4 to 5/4. This is one of the many ways I may approach adding odd time to my music. All the notes are in E Mixolydian and all are in the same tempo. If you want smooth transitions when you are changing meter, keep the tempo the same.

MP3 - 4/4 To 5/4, Example 3


OK, that wraps up our lesson! This only scratches the surface, so be sure to
experiment and don't forget to visit mikecampese.com.

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

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