Time Signatures in Electronic music



I am going to have to do a track called this. Or an album.


a quote inside a quote inside a quote! to make sure it’s attributed properly: i was quoting from this pdf: http://furius.ca/santeriadb/documents/drummingthegods-1.0.pdf

which in turn was quoting somebody else:

“Entrainment may be considered vital to liturgical drumming. The Dutch scientist, Christian Huygens, published his research on the subject in 1665: “If 2 rhythms are nearly the same and their sources are in close proximity, they will always lock up, fall into synchrony, entrain.”


Meshuggah often utilize compound meters with a 4/4 time, which is an interesting way to think about “odd times” that I’ve found works really well outside of extreme metal. The main pulse will be 4/4, but other elements will play odd riffs that eventually come back to the “1”.

Not electronic music as people normally define it, but their music is defined by the sound of high gain guitar amps.


that’s on 17/8 (8+9)


Glad this thread popped up again. I skipped it the first time 'round as I was on vacation and knew I didn’t have the time to get properly sucked in.

My background in electronic music predates MIDI and certainly any drum machine I could have gotten my mitts on. I was using analog modular equipment to generate timing - as well as an Apple ][ with an analog interface. My musical education was also rather unconventional… and so my early music had interesting metrical structures:

I was quite fond of building up metrical patterns, more like poetry feet: [: (( 3+3+3+2+2 ) x 3 + 3+3+3 ) x 4 + 2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2 :] – I could make my synths play this. I had a sense of how one might use time signatures to notate it… but it didn’t seem to help matters much!

I wrote pieces based on change ringing (see, for example a later work Plain Changes 2). Here, changes of n bells use phrases of n+n+1 beats. These compositions overlaid changes of 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 bells - or overlaid 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 beat structures. Polyrhythmic perhaps - but certainly not in the “conventional” sense.

I also wrote many other pieces based on various algorithms - these had a pulse, but no clear sense of metrical structure at all: For example, a work based on neuron networks had a regular neuron firing rate (the pulse) - but how many pulses per phrase was essentially stochastic.

I bring this all up to point that I’ve found it electronic music lends itself to naturally explore not just uncommon time signatures, but the whole nature of metrical expression. It is practical to build electronic systems that let one explore and perform complex structures.

Since then I’ve spent a few years studying conga drumming - and more recently making my share of 4/4 techno-ish beats. I feel like I’ve grown to feel rhythm in my body and not just in my software. And I’ve returned to those early built up patterns, only this time learning to playing them more by feel than by composition. (For example Count With Me (disquiet 0269).)


It reminds me very much of Tidal’s patterns.

I wish this way of thinking about rhythm was more common in music software.

Unrelated to metrical patterns, but very relevant to interesting thinking about rhythm, I continue to be inspired by Xronomorph.


Was thinking the same reading @mzero’s post…

And on this note, seems like getting tidal to output midi clock should be do-able (even if you had to simply write out the sequence for 24ppqn clock as a tidal pattern!). Would be fun to slave a capable midi sequencer to tidal, jam/loop along to live-coded stuff, copy & try to absorb generative rhythms etc. Also provides another means of arranging & composing with tidal…


I’m sure if this thread is still going, but Lumisokea are an amazing Electronic duo for complex rhythms in electronic music. Check out their bio here (https://lumisokea.com/about/), it’s spot on.
And this tune is my particular favourite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UBHLcB1y4w
Pretty sure it’s called Eleven, rather than Dotted. but they’re fully amazing!


Love that heaviness and syncopation.


This is awesome. Thanks for sharing :slight_smile:


These guys are great, thank you!


Heya guys ( n gals hopefully) my first real post here as a long time lurker…

Some really linteresting points and music posted in a topic I find close to heart of late.

Time signatures as a number are something I have not been able to get my head around intellectually.
after playing around with modular stuff in the last few years its taught me new techniques for working with timing on an intuitive level. I like combining various separate odd and even timing elements and use whatever is available to make offsets of those to ultimately make a complex chaotic patch where by “tuning” around you might discover all sorts of interesting variations. In the end im seeking something weird and fun i can groove to so thats the objective… It has given me a great appreciation for indigenous and tribal music. Here is a cut from one of my recordings.


wow amazing…your friend makes some cool stuff


Been a while since I have posted on the forum and wanted to share my friend Ivo’s album, enjoy!


Great thread. Got to mention Burnt Friedman.

Collaboration with Jaki Liebezeit:

Solo work: