How to Play Odd Time Signatures

Playing rock music on the drums can be very complex at some times – especially when you dive into odd time signatures. Playing rock drums to odd time signature rock music can be very complicated. Learning how to play drums in 7/4, 5/4, 3/4 and more is something every drummer must do at some point of his career. Professional drummers can play these time signatures like they are common time, 4/4, and have no problems. Soon enough you will be able to solo and play advanced fills to odd time signatures such as 7/8 and 5/4. So let’s dive into this and learn what we can!

Odd Time Banner

Learn How to Count In Odd Time

Before we begin playing any of these odd time signatures, we need to be able to count them first. This can be done quite easily actually. For a full lesson on how to count time signatures, check out this lesson on How to Count Time. Basically, if you know how to count common time at 4/4, (which is basically 1, 2, 3, 4) you should have no time learning these odd time beats. The easiest way to look at this is by looking at the first number in the fraction. That number is the amount of quarter notes you need to be counting. So if it is 4/4, you know to count 4 notes. If this is the case, then 7/4 would mean you are counting 7 notes. 5/4 would mean you count 5 notes and so on. Like common time, when you get to the end you repeat the count, thus creating your odd time signature groove.

Learn How to Drum in Different Time Signatures

Drummer Once you can count these time signatures, playing them should be easy right? Well this is not always the case. Most rock drummers are so used to common time, that when they start grooving to different time, they get a little confused. The reason for this is with 4/4, the beat or pattern repeats after 4 counts. This is the most common time signature in rock, so most beginner drummers are used to this. When they try to repeat the beat oat 5 or 7 counts, they get confused. This is all that is different with odd time signatures, the time in which the beat repeats.

That being said lets look at some odd time beats. I will give you a few examples of some odd time beats that are very basic. Remember to start counting aloud before you start playing these grooves. Make sure you do not go back into 4/4 time, if it is 7/4 make sure you are counting 7 beats. Try this 7/4 time groove:

sheet music
Pretty simple once you get the hang of things. Now try this jazz beat done in 5/4. This is also known as the 5/4 jazz swing:

Sheet Music

This beat is a little harder with the triplets, but if you can groove to this then you can groove to anything in 5/4.  If you follow this lesson closely you should not have any troubles tackling these off grooves. You should practice these without music first, as it is a little bit trickier to play with no music. When you feel you have this down, move onto drum fills and breaks. Adding these in is your next step! For more information on odd time signatures, check out the Rock Drumming Underground. They are loaded with free drumming lessons that will help you out immensly.

Copyright © 2013 Railroad Media Inc. - All Rights Reserved | Customer Support | Privacy Policy | Drum Forums | Affiliate Program