What’s going on everybody!? Welcome for another 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 second stop takes us to the world of 7/8.
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. So just like the 5/8 lesson, we will be looking at how we can break down 7/8 into different accent patterns. Within 7/8 we have seven eighth notes as we count 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. Simple right? A common idea involves subdividing the seven eighth notes into groups of two and three, which gives us a variety of “accented patterns”. In doing so, this easily allows us to “feel” the sense of seven and create repeating figures, where the accent pattern acts as the primary motivator.
Spice Up a Simple Chord Progression
For those of you familiar with my lessons, you know I enjoy incorporating chords into my riffs. All of the chords used in example two are from the key of E Major (E F# G# A B C# D#). Before we analyze these chords, notice the rhythm. We have a 3+2+2 accent pattern as the rhythmic foundation. We start with a simple G#m triad and we mix or quickly imply an E chord. This allows us to step down to a C#sus2 chord and a Bm (barre chord shape) in second position (fret). The progression repeats a second time, except the last group of 3 we move up to the G#m chord again, this time making giving adding the minor 7th or b7.
When writing in 7/8, one fun trick is to add a quarter pulse or “feel” rather than a consistent eighth note drive. A Quarter note is twice as long as an eighth note, meaning that a Quarter notes will last two eighth notes in duration. This is a nice way to sneak or imply a 4/4 (quarter note pulse) over our 7/8, what fun! Nothing crazy here chord wise, actually it’s more of a bass line to be honest. Just simple octaves that follow the harmony of the progression.
I kept this example as simple as possible by just replacing our two or three note groups with longer notes i.e. quarter notes and dotted quarter notes. I recommend being a little more adventurous and try using just quarter notes. It’s fun have a quarter note pulse against our odd time feel. If you have the ability to record yourself or a loop pedal, try putting these two examples together.
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 7/8, as well as 5/8. How to “feel” its pulse. Next week we will reinforce these ideas by creating parts that mix in different time signatures or Multiple Meters. 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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