How to Count Time Signatures

Drum Notation

As a drummer, you should be able to play all styles of music in different times signatures. This is definably no easy task. So let’s start with the basics – time signatures. If you are asked to play a drum beat in 7/8 time would you be able to follow? What you need is to know how to count time signatures so you can follow along with the music. Once you have this under your belt, you will be a much more rounded drummer. Being able to count time is a must for any drummer. If you wnt to learn how to play jazz, then you have to know how to count triplets. If you want to play odd time beats, then learning how to count is a must also! This article will show you how to count time signatures, and how to follow along with all the different types of time signatures. After this, you may want to learn how to read drum notation.

How to Determine Time Signatures

First off, we need to be able to recognize what a time signature is and how to distinguish the time signature played in different songs. A time signature is a fraction number that determines the amount, as well as the type of notes are in each measure. This is not as complicated as it seems. The most common time signature in rock music is 4/4; this means there are 4 quarter notes per measure. Think of a measure as the amount of time before the beat or pattern repeats. Let’s look at some other examples. 3/4 means there are 3 quarter notes per measure. 7/8 means there are 7 eight notes in a measure. I hope this makes sense for you, it’s pretty straight forward. Now all you need to know is how to count these.

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How to Count Different Time Signatures

Before we go into different time signatures, let’s go over how to count the common time signature – 4/4. This is a simple as counting to 4. Usually the beat will repeat after 4 counts. If you are playing 8th notes, count the &’s in between. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. So if this is how you count 4/4, then counting others should be easy! Let’s try 7/4. Well, we know that there are 7 quarter notes in there, so you would do the same as 4/4. Simply count to 7. But watch out, the number 7 is 2 syllables, meaning if you count this with 2 syllables, you will be adding an extra count to the beat. So to counter this, simply say SEV instead of seven. If the beat is 7/8, simply count eight notes by adding the &’s in: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and. Basically when you see an odd time signature, start by feeling the tempo of the song. From thee try and determine when the beat or pattern repeats. Count how many beats there are before this happens. If the pattern repeats in 6 counts, you know the time signature is either 6/8 or 3/4.

Counting time signatures is not a hard task. Being able to determine the time signature of a certain song or pattern is a great tool every drummer must have under his/her belt. So take some time to listen to a few unique songs and try to figure out the time signature. Try to play beats in different time signatures (other than 4.4) by counting out loud. Counting them and playing them are a little different, so take your time and you should have no problems!

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Now that you understand time signatures - you're ready to learn how to play drums!

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