28 Songs in Unusual Time Signatures

The time signature for almost all pop/rock songs is 4/4 but there are some interesting unusual time signatures used in great songs. As a songwriter I tend to write in 4/4 just because it works in my head, but The Magnificent Companeros drummer – the mighty Sil Molnar – just loves an usual time signature (let alone fellow bandmates Tim Newsom and Will Berryman), so I’ve been doing some research into other songs to try and find some inspiration to do my own. I’m nowhere near nailing it, but given I’ve done a bit of research I thought I’d share what I’ve found – and as always, if there are any others you know of please don’t hesitate to put them in the comments!

1. Happiness Is A Warm Gun, The Beatles (uses measures of 3/8, 5/4,6/4, 9/8, 10/8 and 12/8 time)

2. Tom Sawyer, Rush (7/8 time in the instrumental)

3. Golden Brown, The Stranglers (uses 6/8 and 7/8, with the opening in 13/4 time)

4. Money, Pink Floyd (7/4 time)

5. The Ocean, Led Zeppelin (uses measures of 7/8 time)

6. Turn It On Again, Genesis (13/4 time)

7. 15 Step, Radiohead (5/4 Time)

8. I Hung My Head, Sting (9/8 time)

9. Just Like You Imagined, Nine Inch Nails (10/4 time)

10. Blockhead, Devo (verses in 11/8 time)

11. Electric Feel, MGMT (6/4 time)

12. Blue Ronda A La Turk, Dave Brubeck Quartet (9/8 time)

13. Rusty Cage, Soundgarden (uses measures of 19/8)

14. Original Mission Impossible Theme (5/4 time)

15. Say A Little Prayer, Burt Bacharach (sung by Dionne Warwick) (uses both 10/4 and 11/4 times)

16. Whipping Post, Allman Brothers (intro in 11/4 time)

17. Keep It Greasy, Frank Zappa (uses measures of 19/16 and 21/16 time)

18. The First Circle, Pat Metheny Group (uses measures of 12/8 and 22/8 time)

19. Hollow, Bjork (17/8 time)

20. Living In The Past, Jethro Tull (5/4 time)

21. Solsbury Hill, Peter Gabriel (7/8 time)

22. Estimated Prophet, Grateful Dead (7/8 time)

23. Take Five, Dave Brubeck Quartet (5/4 time)

24. Misunderstanding, Genesis (12/8 time)

25. Fool For You, Curtis Mayfield (9/8 time)

26. The Count of Tuscany, Dream Theater (verses in 9/4)

27. Starless, King Crimson (13/4 time)

28. 78341316, deadmau5 (uses 7/8 and 13/16 time)


One Comment on “28 Songs in Unusual Time Signatures

  1. Great article and selection.

    I wouldn’t say a 12/8 is an odd time signature, its a double 6/8 and quite uplifting, I probably wouldn’t include Misunderstanding here…

    Other than that, great list!


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