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Time Signature on Sting Song


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  • Time Signature on Sting Song

    I was listening to Ten Summoners Tales the other day, don't know the name of teh song, but the second song on the album has a really weird feel to it. It sounds pretty straight up when you listen to it, but try counting the beats and it's a bear.

    I know there's a middle bridge/chorus that is clearly in 4/4, but the verse is really odd. From what I can tell, drummer is accentuating the upbeat (ie "and"), but even bearing that in mind, it's really hard to count out the begining and end of the phrase. Does anybody know anything about this song?

    Derek P

  • #2
    they switch between 1,2,3 and 1,2,3,4.

    i'm not a theory-magician, but i think 3/4 and 2/4 (or 4/4). and yes: it's a nifty trick. it sounds great. try playing it.

    bi the way: the song is called Love is stronger than justice.
    'huic ergo parce, Deus'


    • #3
      Ya, as soon as I posted this, I went out to dig up the CD case. It is "Love is Stronger Than Justice (The Beneficient (or Magnificent) Seven)" I know they talk about seven brothers in there, but...

      After making this post, and reading through your post, it looks to me like you're right on the groupings, but I'm thinking the time signature is more likely 7/4, with the chorus in 4/4. 7/4 goes with your observation (two groupings ie 1-2-3 1-2-3-4 but likely counted 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 w/emphasis I'm guessing on the 2, 4, & 7)

      So how do you like that...the title of the song aludes to the weird time signature.

      Drumming seems to really throw you off though making it really hard to find the one of the phrase.

      Oh, and thanks for you help in this.

      Derek P


      • #4
        This lessons loft is slow . . . is this one still on the first page?

        Anyway . . .

        7/4? mmmmm. could be.
        'huic ergo parce, Deus'


        • #5
          If I remember correctly the song is in 7/8, but the ride cymbal pattern stays constant. So if you look at it as a 2-bar phrase and count each bar as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, in the first bar the ride will fall on 1 3 5 and 7. In the second bar the ride falls on 2 4 and 6. You're hearing the quarter notes on the ride (tricking the ear into hearing 4/4) against the snare and kick drums playing the pattern in 7. Once you can feel it that way, it's a cool trick for evening out odd time signatures.
          Drumming - The art of organizing time


          • #6
            So, it seems to me, to express the beat groupings of the song, the seven beat measure needs to be expressed, but what I'm not so clear on is why it would be 7/8 and not 7/4, or for that matter 7/16, etc....

            Does it come in more for writing the material to sheet music, it's easier to write it on the page? I'm really just curious, and my inquisitive nature propels me to ask the infernal why?

            Perhaps convention as well? "Our fathers fathers.." I'm not trying to invent the wheel, just figure out why it rolls.

            Derek P


            • #7
              Great question. I think it's mainly a writing convention. There are many different ways that you could write out a particular rhythm, but it seems that it's easier to write most odd-time patterns against 8th notes instead of quarter notes. In the example from the Sting tune, you could write the phrase as 1 measure of 7/4 or 2 measures of 7/8. Ignoring the ride cymbal pattern, in 7/8 the snare and kick pattern just repeats in the second bar of the phrase. In 7/4, the same pattern becomes more complex to read because for the first four beats, the snare and kick fall on the quarter notes and for the last 3 beats, the snare and kick fall between quarter notes.

              Also, if a tune moves between 4/4 and 7, it's easier to feel when moving to eighth notes. Count eighth notes in 4/4 then shift to 7/8 for 2 bars:

              1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

              then count eighths in 4/4 and move to 7/4 for 1 bar:

              1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 +

              Feel the difference? It really comes into play at fast tempos.
              Drumming - The art of organizing time


              • #8
                Yep, feel the difference. Going from the 1+2...etc (assuming the plus represents counting the "and"), it does help to demarcate the change in time. Dragging it out in 7/4 really doesn't seems to instinctually (as much as learning music is instinct, or how about more aptly "intrinsically"), imply the difference in meter.

                Also, makes sense wrt to having to count or placing emphasis between the beats (ie 7/4 vs 7/8).

                Haven't had the chance to listen to the song again after this discussion, but now definetely armed with some new angles to attack. It did seem like there was something that seemed to hang over that bar lines (ie the ride), but I hadn't really picked it apart yet to find out what. I had previously been able to count out a 4/4 time over the song, but it just seemed weird to hear the downbeat changing over each measure.

                Then counting in 7/8 I did notice that it agreed with the rest of the song structure such as vocal phrasing, and majority of drumming pattern better. Then that ride still made it tough to find the one as I guess being in 4/4 the ride will emphasize the one every other time through. Of course, the good ol guitar just chugs along, but who needs the guitar anyways.

                derek p


                • #9
                  The tune's in 7/4 with a 4/4 break. You count seven, then you count four. What are you, a drummer? You don't have to break it down into eighth notes.


                  • #10
                    I have read all this which hurts my head! On the same subject can someone tell me the time signature on Sting's 25 to midnight ?


                    • JonR
                      JonR commented
                      Editing a comment

                      It's 7/4.  But the drums help confuse things, because they don't switch the beat around.  IOW, it keeps the snare on every other beat all the way (at least on the main groove).

                      IOW, in the first bar of 7/4, the snare is on beats 2, 4 and 6 (as you'd expect).  But then on the next bar it hits 1, 3, 5 and 7; then back to 2-4-6 in the next bar. Here's how it lines up with the vocal:


                      SNARE: | X X X |
                      |1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 |
                      Train I |ride don't be slow, if your |

                      |X X X X |
                      |1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 |
                      whis----tle can blow, fif--teen

                      And so on.  Follow the vocal, which has the exact same rhythmic phrasing in each bar -  not the drums, which will put you off. 

                      (The first 2 syllables of each line are right on beats 6 and 7.  Eg "Train I ride" is "6-7-One.)

                      If it helps (and it does fit with the vocal), you can count it |1-2-3-4|1-2-3|.

                      It's a simple 8-bar sequence: 4 bars Bb, 1 bar each on F and Eb, 2 bars on Bb, with a break in the last bar - on a syncopated snare hit on beat "4-and" (8th note between beats 4 and 5), on the word "time".  (Listening for where the chords change can help you confirm your guesses about the bars and beats!)