What’s going on everybody!? Welcome to the first installment of Axe of Creation here at Gear Snobs. Throughout the month of February, we will be taking a look at some Odd Time basics. Our first stop arrives in the land of 5/8.
Time Breaks Down
Our first step in gaining an understanding is learning how to count or subdivide the rhythm, which will help any phrases flow more naturally. I’m going to assume you have a basic understanding of counting in 4/4, it will only help as we move forward. Within 5/8 we have five eighth notes as we count 1 2 3 4 5. Simple right? A common idea involves subdividing the five eighth notes into groups of two and three, which gives us either two + three OR three+two. In doing so, this easily allows us to “feel” the sense of five and create repeating figures, where the accent pattern acts as the primary motivator.
Pick a chord, any chord
For those of you familiar with my lessons, you know Major 7th chords is one of my favorite flavors to write with. Let us then not deviate and use a G Maj7(13) arpeggio to give our pattern some harmonic color. Picking out the chord this way will add a nice “intervallic” sound, plus the sound of a Maj7th (G-F#) interval is so full of useful dissonance and expression.
As you can see by the note groupings in the tabs above, we are using a 3+2 feel with the Gmaj7 chord which then moves to a 2+3 feel over the second chord, which is a simple Diminished Triad for fun. Obviously use whatever chord qualities and connections that resonate with you! A simple idea to help mold and create an understanding of grouping or accent patterns.
Ah, what’s better that a simple open power chord? Nothing, therefore let us chug! In the below example, we will be departing from our two and three groupings to place hits on specific (predetermined) beats. We have a two measure phrase, each with its own pattern and incorporates Rests (silence) as well. We start with hits on 1, 3, and 4 while adding rests on 2 and 5. Trying counting aloud (1 2 3 4 5) while clapping the hits (1, 3, 4) as you count through five. The second measure shifts our hits over by a beat creating chugs on 1, 4, and 5 while resting on 2 and 3. Again try the clapping exercise, isolating each measure then combining them. I high encourage you to write several variations of these examples, this will allow you to become more comfortable and adept at creating rhythmically interesting feels and riffs aka “syncopation” (accenting upbeats)!
To help achieve fast or possibly more aggressive riffs, you can play this idea twice as fast ie, sixteenth notes instead of eighth notes. The same relationship as quarter notes to eighth notes, just double time. Don’t let this befuddle you, it’s the same exact rhythm just faster. One could say that we’re “diminishing” the rhythm, think of that in the context of “distorting time”. Creating “dissonance” with rhythm.
Till Next Week
Well, that wraps up part one of our odd adventures! Hopefully, you now have an understanding of how to count and subdivide 5/8. How to “feel” its pulse. Next week we will reinforce these ideas and add a couple of more beats, 7/8! Got questions, feel free to contact me or leave your question in the comments below! Thanks so much and as always, let me know what you come up with!
Gregory Arthur is Axe of Creation, a Gear Snob, and a Father of Two. He challenges you to become uncomfortable with yourself in attempts to gain a new perspective. Never give your energy away to what you’re not. Focus on what resonates within you and bring forth in creation.
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