by Steve Eulberg
Playing traditional instruments in the western world, we get quite used to “square” or “even” rhythms and meters in the songs we play.
Marches and Reels are in (4/4) time; Polkas are in (2/2 or 4/4). Even jigs (6/8) have 2 pulses in their measures. Waltzes (3/4) have a strong beat on 1. Slides (12/8 or 6/8) and Slip Jigs (9/8) have multiple pulses in their measures, but what all of these tunes tend to have in common is that they have a regular way to be counted based on the time signature.
There are other places in the world, however, where tunes with Odd Meters are considered normal or natural. Key signatures of 5/4, 7/8, 11/8 feel odd to many of us, but odd can ALSO mean FUN!
Actually what happens in these tunes is the players or dancers sometimes sub-divide the counting into smaller bits to help keep the song together.
5/4 may be counted: 123 12
11/8 may be counted: 1234 123 1234.
7/8 may be counted several ways: 1234 123 or 123 1234 or 123 12 12.
Which choice is made is determined by the character of the tune itself.
The tune Club-Footed Jib is a tune that I wrote as an etude (a study) of the 7/8 time signature. Each of the 3 sections of the tune has a different way of counting. A new lesson teaching this tune and its exciting Odd Meter has now been posted.
Here is the hammered dulcimer demonstration of the tune.
Here is the mountain dulcimer demonstration of the tune.
Log in and learn to play this one as a tool for exploring an Odd Meter!