Suvarna Garge (Editor)

List of musical works in unusual time signatures

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Listed here are musical compositions or pieces in Western music that have unusual time signatures. "Unusual" is here defined to be any time signature other than simple time signatures with top numerals of 2, 3, or 4 and bottom numerals of 2, 4, or 8, and compound time signatures with top numerals of 6, 9, or 12 and bottom numerals 4, 8, or 16.

Contents

The conventions of musical notation typically allow for more than one written representation of a particular piece. The chosen time signature largely depends upon musical context, personal taste of the composer or transcriber, and the graphic layout on the written page. Frequently, published editions were written in a specific time signature to visually signify the tempo for slow movements in symphonies, sonatas, and concerti. The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, includes two examples: in the relatively slow first movement the predominant rhythm is in triplet eighth notes (quavers), whereas in the second movement the basic tempo is faster but the music is notated in quarter notes (crotchets) and half notes (minims), giving a visual clue to the nature of the phrasing. The first movement could be written in 12
8
and still convey the same rhythm, phrasing, and tempo. Similarly, the second movement could be notated in 3
8
instead of 3
4
without changing the phrasing. More to the point of the present article, a perfectly consistent unusual metrical pattern may be notated in a more familiar time signature that does not correspond to it. For example, the Passacaglia from Britten's opera Peter Grimes consists of variations over a recurring bass line eleven beats in length, but is notated in ordinary 4
4
time, with each variation lasting 2 34 bars, and therefore commencing each time one crotchet earlier than the preceding one.

These examples are grouped by time signature, and listed alphabetically by title.

Partially in  3⁄54

  • Mädchentotenlieder, by Bo Nilsson. Bar 97 is in 35
    4
    time.
  • Partially in  2⁄32 or  2⁄34

  • "L'Artisanat furieux", third movement of Le marteau sans maître, by Pierre Boulez. Bars 24, 35, and 43 are in 23
    4
    time.
  • Mädchentotenlieder, by Bo Nilsson. Bar 102 is in 23
    2
    ; bar 123 is in 23
    4
    time.
  • Partially in  4⁄54

  • Mädchentotenlieder, by Bo Nilsson. Bar 112 is in 45
    4
    time.
  • Partially in 11, 12, 14, 18, 116, 132, or 164

  • "Andantino", second movement of Alcancías by Silvestre Revueltas. Fifth bar after rehearsal 24, second bar of rehearsal 27, first bar of rehearsal 28, third bar of rehearsal 29, one bar before 31, and one bar before 32 are all 1
    4
    .
  • Appalachian Spring, by Aaron Copland. Third bar of rehearsal 46 and third bar of rehearsal 48 are in 1
    2
    .
  • "A Headache And A Sixty-Fourth", from Ron Jarzombek's album Solitarily Speaking of Theoretical Confinement, has a constant time signature pattern of 4
    4
    and 1
    64
    .
  • "Improvisation sur Mallarmé 2", from Pli selon pli by Pierre Boulez.
  • "Lento–Allegro molto agitato", first movement of Symphony No. 17 in G-sharp minor by Nikolay Myaskovsky, has a 1
    2
    signature from rehearsal numbers 2–7, 25–35, 42–47, 59–66, and 70–74.
  • Lincolnshire Posy, Lord Melbourne by Percy Grainger uses 1
    8
    .
  • Mädchentotenlieder, by Bo Nilsson. Bar 11 is in 1
    16
    time, bar 53 is in 1
    8
    time, bars 20, 22–27, 33–36, 38–40, 43, 49, 51, 54, 57, 65, 76–77, 80–81, 86, 90–93, 95, 99, 103–7, 115–16, 118, 120, 122, 124, 126, 130, 134–42, 145, 153, and 158 are in 1
    4
    time.
  • Metastaseis, by Iannis Xenakis. The first 103 bars are in 1
    4
    .
  • Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, by Dream Theater. Third bar of rehearsal R is in 1
    4
    .
  • "Moderato", first movement of the Piano Sonata No. 3 by Carlos Chávez, bars 13, 15, 19, 52, 54, and 58 are in 1
    4
    time.
  • A Nightmare to Remember, by Dream Theater. Measure 31 is in 1
    8
    .
  • On an Overgrown Path, by Leos Janacek. There are two 1
    8
    bars in the third movement, and isolated 1
    4
    bars in the sixth, tenth, and eleventh movements.
  • Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky, the bar before rehearsal 17 is in 1
    4
    .
  • Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 53, by Alexander Scriabin. Bars 251 to 262 (Presto giocoso) are in 1
    2
    .
  • "Scherzo" (2nd Movement) from Alexander Borodin's Symphony No. 2 is in Prestissimo 1
    1
    , except for the trio section, which is in Allegretto 6
    4
    .
  • "Un poco mosso", second movement of the Piano Sonata No. 3 by Carlos Chávez, bar 176 is in 1
    8
    time.
  • Zeitmaße by Karlheinz Stockhausen uses 1
    16
    .
  • Partially in 112

  • "Claro y conciso", fourth movement from Piano Sonata No. 3 by Carlos Chávez, b. 47, 49, 107, and 109 are in 1
    12
    .
  • Partially in  1 1⁄24

  • Lincolnshire Posy, Lord Melbourne by Percy Grainger. Some parts mark this measure as 1 12
    4
    while others mark it as 3
    8
    . This trombone part has a bar of 1 12
    4
    on the bottom of page 4.
  • Partially in  4⁄32 or  4⁄34

  • "L'Artisanat furieux", third movement of Le marteau sans maître, by Pierre Boulez. Bar 3 is in 43
    2
    time.
  • Mädchentotenlieder, by Bo Nilsson. Bar 83 is in 43
    4
    time.
  • 21

  • "Gigue", last movement of 6th Partita in E minor, BWV 830, by Johann Sebastian Bach. This gigue is in 2
    1
    in the Bischoff edition, however, the symbol (the mensuration sign for "tempus perfectum, prolatio minor, diminutum") appears in the first edition of 1731, and = 2
    2
    in the autograph manuscript). This time signature is unusual for gigues, which are usually in 6
    8
    or 12
    8
    .
  • Partially in 21

  • Five Pieces for Piano, op. 23, by Arnold Schoenberg.
  • "Improvisation sur Mallarmé 2", from Pli selon pli by Pierre Boulez.
  • Partially in 23

  • L'Itoi Variations by Kyle Gann. Bar 275 is in 2
    3
    time.
  • 216

  • Comme le vent, first of the Douze études dans toutes les tons mineurs, Op. 39, by Charles-Valentin Alkan.
  • Sketch, Op. 1 No. 10, by Alexei Stanchinsky.
  • Partially in 232

  • Zeitmaße by Karlheinz Stockhausen uses 2
    32
    .
  • Partially in  2 1⁄24

  • "Claro y conciso", fourth movement from Piano Sonata No. 3 by Carlos Chávez, b. 58, 61, 69–86, 88–91, 93–94, 118–19, 121–24 are in 3 12
    4
    .
  • Lincolnshire Posy, Lord Melbourne by Percy Grainger.
  • Study in Sonority by Wallingford Riegger contains several 2 12
    4
    bars.
  • Partially in 2[4]18

  • "O Cavalinho de páu" (The Little Wooden Horse), no. 5 from A próle do bébé No. 2 by Heitor Villa-Lobos, bar 68 is in 2
    [4]
    1
    8
    time.
  • Partially in 31

  • Symphony No. 3 (Saint-Saëns) by Camille Saint-Saëns, in two sections (a total of 21 bars) at the end of the finale.
  • O Fortuna from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (first four bars).
  • 316

  • Symphonic Studies, Étude IX (first version) by Robert Schumann.
  • Variations for piano, Op. 27, by Anton Webern, first movement.
  • Partially in 316

  • String Quartet, Op. 28, by Anton Webern: the third movement is in 3
    16
    from bars 40 to 41, and again from bars 44 to 51.
  • 332

  • "Lilliputsche Chaconne", from Intrada, nebst burlesquer Suite, for two violins (the so-called "Gulliver Suite") by Georg Philipp Telemann.
  • Partially in 332

  • String Quartet, Op. 28, by Anton Webern: the third movement is in 3
    32
    from bars 28 to 37.
  • Zeitmaße by Karlheinz Stockhausen uses 3
    32
    .
  • Partially in  3 1⁄24

  • "Claro y conciso", fourth movement from Piano Sonata No. 3 by Carlos Chávez, b. 57, 67, 87, 92, 117are in 3 12
    4
    .
  • Driftwood Suite, for piano, by Gardner Read uses 3 12
    4
    time.
  • Touch Piece, for piano, by Gardner Read uses 3 12
    4
    time.
  • 3 2⁄24

  • "Reverie der Laputier, nebst ihren Aufweckern", from Intrada, nebst burlesquer Suite, for two violins (the so-called "Gulliver Suite") by Georg Philipp Telemann.
  • 3 2⁄34

  • "Upstart" by Don Ellis (originally written in 11
    8
    ).
  • 416

  • "Baile" (Dance), the first movement of Homenaje a Federico García Lorca by Silvestre Revueltas is entirely in 4
    16
    , except for one free-rhythm bar at the beginning and two at the end.
  • Partially in 416

  • "Andante espressivo", second movement from Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5, by Johannes Brahms (b. 37–66, 77–90).
  • String Quartet, Op. 28, by Anton Webern: the third movement is in 4
    16
    from bars 52 to 53.
  • Partially in  4 1⁄24

  • "The Alcotts", third movement of the Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass., 1840–1860, by Charles Ives bar 20 is in 4 12
    4
    time.
  • "Claro y conciso", fourth movement from Piano Sonata No. 3 by Carlos Chávez, bar 125 is in 4 12
    4
    .
  • Driftwood Suite, for piano, by Gardner Read uses 4 12
    4
    time.
  • Touch Piece, for piano, by Gardner Read uses 4 12
    4
    time.
  • Partially in  5 1⁄24

  • Driftwood Suite, for piano, by Gardner Read uses 5 12
    4
    time.
  • Touch Piece, for piano, by Gardner Read uses 5 12
    4
    time.
  • Partially in 62

  • "In the First Pentatonic Major Mode (En el 1er modo pentáfono mayor)", no. 12 from 12 American Preludes for piano (1944) by Alberto Ginastera (bar 23 in 6
    2
    ).
  • "Missa L'homme Arme", by Johannes Ockeghem. The tenor part of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, and Agnus is in 6
    2
    .
  • "Molto adagio" (Adagio for Strings), second movement of Samuel Barber's String Quartet, op. 11, bars 15 and 26 are in 6
    2
    .
  • Partially in  6 1⁄28

  • Schism by Tool is described by the band as largely in 6 12
    8
    and includes numerous other times.
  • 84 or 88

    Note: 8
    4
    or 8
    8
    may refer to an evenly divided compound duple or quadruple meter. While this is arguably extremely common in music, the notations "8
    4
    " and "8
    8
    " themselves are not, so all divisions of this time signature are listed here.
  • "Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm" 4, from Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos (no. 151), is in 3+2+3
    8
    .
  • "Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm" 6, from Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos (no. 153), is in 3+3+2
    8
    .
  • Partially in 84, 88, or 816

  • Abraham and Isaac by Igor Stravinsky. Bar 159 is in 8
    16
    time.
  • "Allegro calmo senza rigore", first movement of String Quartet No. 2, op. 36 (1945), by Benjamin Britten. Bars 3 and 12 after rehearsal K are in 8
    4
    .
  • "Allegro molto", fourth movement of Béla Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. Bars 204, 207, 210, 213 are in 8
    8
    .
  • "Allegro Vivace: scorrevole e bisbigliando", the third movement of Symphony No. 3 by Peter Maxwell Davies has one bar of 8
    8
    before rehearsal X.
  • "Andante tranquillo", first movement of Béla Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. Bars 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 19, 22, 26–27, 29, 38–40, 46, 53, 69, 71, 73, 75, 83, and 85 are in 8
    8
  • A Choral Fantasia, op. 51, by Gustav Holst. Bars 36–69, 142–48, 173–78, and 191–98 are in 8
    4
    .
  • The Cry of Anubis, for tuba and orchestra by Harrison Birtwistle. Bars 33, 36, and 45–46 are in 8
    16
    .
  • "Damage Control" by John Petrucci has several bars in 8
    4
    .
  • "De elegia prima" from Threni by Igor Stravinsky. Bars 83–84, 91, and 165 are in 8
    8
    .
  • Diversions, for piano (left hand) and orchestra, Op. 21, by Benjamin Britten. In Variation IV, bars 171, 175–77, 181, and 187–91 are in 8
    8
    .
  • The Flood by Igor Stravinsky. Bars 406, 414, 422, 427, 432, 440, and 448 are in 8
    16
    time, all divided 3+2+3.
  • Histoire du soldat by Igor Stravinsky has one bar in 8
    16
    time, at the fourth bar following rehearsal 35, in the movement "Ragtime".
  • "I Ejaculate Fire" by Dethklok. Bars 81, 83, 85, and 88 are in 8
    4
    .
  • The "Interlude" from the Requiem Canticles by Igor Stravinsky has bar 156 in 8
    16
    time.
  • "Intermezzo interrotto", fourth movement of Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra has three bars of 8
    8
    in the strings at rehearsal 75.
  • "Lento–Adagio–Andante–Moderato–Allegretto–Poco più animato–Allegro moderato–Allegro–Allegro alla breve–Vivace", the first movement of Symphony No. 3 by Peter Maxwell Davies has two bars of 8
    4
    (divided 3+2+3) at rehearsal N.
  • "Pas de deux", the fourth number of the ballet Fancy Free by Leonard Bernstein. Bars 324–25, 355–57, 359–61 are in 8
    8
    .
  • Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky, one bar before and five bars after rehearsal 4 superimposes a bar of 8
    8
    in piccolo 1 & 2, ob. 1 & 2, and trumpet 1, and piccolo 1 & 2, ob. 1–3, cornet 1 & trumpet 1, respectively against 3
    4
    in the rest of the orchestra.
  • "Piano Sonata No. 2" (The Airplane), by George Antheil. One of the bars is in 8
    8
    .
  • The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, in the tableau "Mysterious Games of the Maidens", the bar before rehearsal 99 is in 8
    4
    .
  • "Sonata No. 1", by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. One of the bars is in 8
    8
    .
  • De Staat by Louis Andriessen. Bars 5, 8, 10, 12–16, 54–57, 83–84, 87–88, 582, 590, 602, 610, 612, 625, 630, 644, 647–48, 650, 663, 695, 707, 851, and 853 are in 8
    8
    . Bars 686–87 are in 8
    4
    .
  • 89

  • Pieces by Frescobaldi are described as having 8
    9
    signatures, "but apparently just to cancel previous proportions".
  • 812

  • "Rosary Sonatas", by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, No. 6, Christ on the Mount of Olives, part of the Adagio is marked 8
    12
    , though this is a proportion sign converting the preceding 12
    8
    to 4
    4
    .
  • 92, 94 or 98

    Time signatures that group nine beats into three groups of three are very common in music. This section only lists other groupings, such as 2+3+2+2.

  • "Big Lie Small World", by Sting is in 9
    8
    with varying division.
  • "I Hung My Head", by Sting is in 2+3+2+2
    8
  • "Niska Banja," SATB choral arrangement by Nick Page of a Serbian Gypsy dance, is in 2+2+2+3
    8
  • "Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm" 1, from Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos (no. 148), is in 4+2+3
    8
    .
  • "Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm" 5, from Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos (no. 152), is in 2+2+2+3
    8
    .
  • Partially in 92, 94, or 98

  • "Apocalypse in 9
    8
    " by Genesis. Penultimate movement of the "Supper's Ready" suite, rhythm section plays a 9
    8
    riff as 3+2+4, organ solo plays polymetrically over this (sometimes 4
    4
    , sometimes 7
    4
    .)
  • "Blue Rondo à la Turk" (1959) by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, from the album Time Out - Played as 2+2+2+3 and 3+3+3, with some alternating sections of 4
    4
  • "The Count of Tuscany" by Dream Theater. The verse riff is in 9
    4
    , with a rhythm of 3+2+2+3+3+2+3
    8
    .
  • "Manticore", the fifth movement of Tarkus by Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
  • "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden. The time signature is 9
    8
    after the 2nd and 3rd chorus.
  • "Los peones de hacienda", from the ballet Estancia by Alberto Ginastera. The refrain, at rehearsal numbers 62, 65, 67, 68, 69+3, and 70 is marked "9
    8
    (3
    4
    - 3
    8
    )"; the remainder is variously in 6
    8
    , 3
    4
    , 5
    8
    , and 7
    8
    .
  • Partially in 932

  • Un Vitrail et des Oiseaux by Olivier Messiaen uses 3+2+2+2
    32
    .
  • 104, 108 or 1016

  • Étude, op. 35, no. 12 in E major, for piano, by Charles-Valentin Alkan. (10
    16
    , grouped as 5
    16
    + 5
    16
    )
  • "Just Like You Imagined" by Nine Inch Nails. (10
    4
    )
  • "Nostalgia" by Yanni. (10
    8
    )
  • "Piano Sonata No. 2" (The Airplane), by George Antheil. One of the bars is in 10
    8
    .
  • "Playing in the Band" by the Grateful Dead (notated as 4+2+4
    4
    ). (10
    4
    )
  • "Wanderlove" by Mason Williams. (10
    4
    )
  • "Everything in its Right Place" by Radiohead. (10
    4
    after a pick-up measure of two beats; divided 4+4+2)
  • Partially in 104, 108 or 1016

  • "Allegro calmo senza rigore", first movement of String Quartet No. 2, op. 35 (1945), by Benjamin Britten. Fourth bar after rehearsal K ("tranquillo, lusingando") is in 10
    4
    .
  • "Crocodile" by This Town Needs Guns is largely in 10
    4
    .
  • "Erotomania" by Dream Theater, the first 3 bars of the intro progression are in 10
    8
    .
  • "Rabbit" by This Town Needs Guns has parts in 10
    4
    .
  • Sketch, Op. 1 No. 7, by Alexei Stanchinsky (10
    8
    ).
  • "Solacium", part 3 of "De Elegia Tertia" from Threni, id est Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae, by Igor Stravinsky.
  • "Sonata No. 1", by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. One of the bars is in 10
    8
    .
  • "Testotyrannosaurus" by Hail the Sun contains some parts in 10
    4
    , and 11
    4
    .
  • "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull. The second section of the first part of the song is in 10
    4
  • 114 or 118

  • "Cigne je suis", from Airs a III. IIII. V. et VI. parties (première livre, 1608) by Claude Le Jeune (barred as 11
    4
    ).
  • "The Eleven", by the Grateful Dead.
  • "Eleven Four", by Paul Desmond and recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet (11
    4
    ).
  • "Fugue", second movement of Bachianas brasileiras no. 9, by Heitor Villa-Lobos. (11
    8
    )
  • In Nomine IX, for harpsichord, by John Bull. (11
    4
    )
  • Mario Kart 64 (video game), music by Kenta Nagata, at the race results screen.
  • "Man-Erg" (1971), by Van der Graaf Generator.
  • "Presto", second movement of Alexei Stanchinsky's Piano Sonata No. 2 in G major (11
    8
    ).
  • "Pantagruel's Nativity" (1971), by Gentle Giant.
  • Sketch, Op. 1 No. 5, by Alexei Stanchinsky (11
    8
    ).
  • "Where but for Caravan Would I Be" (1969), by Caravan.
  • Partially in 114 or 118

  • "Blockhead", by Devo. Verses are in 11
    8
    time, choruses in 4
    4
    .
  • "Crowned & Kissed" by Esperanza Spalding. The two-bar chorus groove is in 11
    4
    time.
  • "Eight Ball, Coroner's Pocket" by Hail the Sun, intro is composed in 9
    4
    , and 11
    4
    .
  • "Eleven", by Primus. Song is mainly in 11
    8
    , the chorus has one bar in 9
    8
    , and after two bars of 11
    8
    a bar in 12
    8
    .
  • "Here Comes the Sun" (1969), written by The Beatles' George Harrison. The song features common 4
    4
    time in the verses and a compound sequence of 11
    8
    + 4
    4
    + 7
    8
    in the bridge, phrasing interludes which Harrison drew from Indian music influences.
  • Mädchentotenlieder, by Bo Nilsson. Bar 74 is in 11
    4
    time.
  • A próle do bébé, by Heitor Villa-Lobos. The first and last measures of the fourth movement are in 11
    8
    , divided into 6
    8
    or 3
    4
    , and 5
    8
    .
  • "Serenade", a wedding recessional by Derek Bourgeois. The beginning and ending sections are in 11
    8
    .
  • "Sonata No. 1", by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. One of the bars is in 11
    8
    .
  • "Testotyrannosaurus" by Hail the Sun contains some parts in 10
    4
    , and 11
    4
    .
  • "Whipping Post", by The Allman Brothers Band. (Begins with a two-bar 11
    4
    riff).
  • 122

  • "Missa L'homme Arme", by Johannes Ockeghem. Part of the tenor part of the Credo and Agnus is in 12
    2
    .
  • 1212

  • Quartet for Piano and Winds by Franz Berwald, second movement. The clarinet part is written in 12
    12
    , possibly by mistake.
  • 1232

  • Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, by Ludwig van Beethoven: the second movement is in 12
    32
    from bars 48 to 64.
  • 134, 138, or 1316

  • "The Great Divide" by Don Ellis (13
    4
    ).
  • The Terminator main theme, by Brad Fiedel (13
    16
    ).
  • "13th August" by FromUz (13
    8
    ).
  • Partially in 134 or 138

  • "The Becoming" by Nine Inch Nails. Begins in a 13
    8
    time signature and changes to 6
    8
    at the 3-minute mark.
  • "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers. The song's characteristic opening phrase, repeated later in the song, is in 13
    4
    (3+3+3+4).
  • "I Will Be Absorbed", by Egg.
  • "Libera me" from the Requiem Canticles by Igor Stravinsky. Bar 276 is in 13
    4
    .
  • "One Word" by Mahavishnu Orchestra has a section in 13
    8
    after the drum solo (just over eight and a half minutes in).
  • A próle do bébé No. 2, by Heitor Villa-Lobos. A measure in the fourth movement, "O cachorrinho de borracha", is in 13
    8
    , divided into 6
    8
    or 3
    4
    , and 7
    8
    . Two measures in the ninth movement, "O lobozinho de vidro", are also in 13
    16
    .
  • "Rabbit" by This Town Needs Guns has sections in 13
    4
    .
  • "Serenade", a wedding recessional by Derek Bourgeois. The middle section is in 13
    4
    .
  • "Skimbleshanks" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats. Introduction and chorus are in 13
    8
    (3+3+3+4). Verses in 4
    4
    .
  • "Sonata No. 1", by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. One of the bars is in 13
    8
    .
  • De Staat by Louis Andriessen. Bars 356 and 517 are in 13
    4
    , while bar 724 is in 13
    8
    .
  • "Starless" (1974), by King Crimson.
  • "Thick as a Brick" (1972), by Jethro Tull.
  • "Turn It on Again" by Genesis. The verses and choruses are in 13
    8
    . Other parts are in 8
    8
    , and 5
    8
    .
  • 158 or 1516

    Other than compound quintuple meter:

  • "Chionoblepharou pater Aous" [Father of the bright-eyed Dawn], Hymn to the Sun, by Mesomedes of Crete (15
    8
    , grouped 2+2+2+2+2+3+2)
  • "Malibu Shuffle" for jazz band, by Wayne L. Perkins (15
    8
    ).
  • "Perpetuum Mobile" by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (15
    8
    )
  • "Strong One" from the Mother 3 soundtrack
  • Partially in 154, 158 or 1516

  • Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part 1 (1973), by Emerson, Lake and Palmer includes a passage in 15
    8
    .
  • Robert Browning Overture, by Charles Ives includes measures in 15
    16
    time.
  • Sonata Op. 25 No. 2 in E minor, for piano, "Night Wind" (1911) by Nikolai Medtner. Main Allegro section in 15
    8
    .
  • De Staat by Louis Andriessen. Bars 501 and 535–36 are in 15
    16
    time, divided 4+4+4+3 (in b. 501 some layers are in 3+3+3+3+3 and 3+4+4+3).
  • String Quartet No. 1 (1950–51), by Elliott Carter includes measures in 15
    16
    time.
  • String Quartet No. 1 (1949), by Leon Kirchner includes measures in 15
    16
    time.
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1959), by Elliott Carter includes measures in 15
    16
    time.
  • "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield. The first riff in 15
    8
    is made of two bars. The first bar is in 7
    8
    , the second bar is in 8
    8
    .
  • 174 or 178

  • "Seven Teens", by Lionel Loueke in 17
    4
    .
  • Sketch, Op. 1, No. 6, by Alexei Stanchinsky (17
    8
    , written as 4
    8
    + 4
    8
    + 5
    8
    + 4
    8
    , but with the 17
    8
    time signature written as well).
  • "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls" by André Previn and Dory Previn in 17
    4
    . Verse changes every measure 4
    4
    + 3
    4
    + 2
    4
    + 4
    4
    + 4
    4
    .
  • Partially in 174 or 178

  • "Crystalline" by Björk.
  • "Hollow" by Björk.
  • "Moon" by Björk.
  • "Panda" by This Town Needs Guns includes sections of 17
    4
    and other meters like 3
    4
    .
  • 188 or 1816

  • Barcarollette, No. 12 of the 49 Esquisses by Charles-Valentin Alkan (18
    8
    , as compound sextuple meter).
  • "Birds of Fire" by Mahavishnu Orchestra. Guitar plays 5+5+5+3 while drums play 6+6+6. Violin from time to time plays 3+3+2+3+3+2+2.
  • "Interludium III" from the opera Don Rodrigo by Alberto Ginastera is in 18
    16
    meter, except the last three bars, which are in 3
    4
    .
  • "Moderato", no. 2 (1909) from Four Etudes, op. 2, by Sergei Prokofiev (18
    8
    in one hand against 4
    4
    in the other).
  • "Variatio 26, a 2 Clav.", from the Clavierübung, Vierter Theil, Aria mit 30 Veränderungen ["Goldberg Variations"], by Johann Sebastian Bach. (18
    16
    in one hand against 3
    4
    in the other, exchanging hands at intervals until the last five bars where both hands are in 18
    16
    ).
  • 194, 198, or 1916

  • "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" by Mahavishnu Orchestra.
  • Consort for Piano and Strings by John Vincent.
  • "Piano Sonata No. 2" (The Airplane), by George Antheil. One of the bars is in 19
    8
    .
  • "She's Only 19" by Wayne L. Perkins (19
    4
    ).
  • "33 222 1 222" by Don Ellis (19
    4
    ).
  • Partially in 194, 198, or 1916

  • "Home" by Dream Theater (ends in 19
    16
    ).
  • Partially in 204 or 208

  • "Deux moulins", from Airs a III. IIII. V. et VI. parties (première livre, 1608) by Claude Le Jeune (third section, Chant à 3, is barred as 20
    4
    ; the rest of the piece is in 21
    4
    ).
  • "Gibbon" by This Town Needs Guns is transcribed partially in 20
    4
    .
  • "Sensus spei", part 2 of "De Elegia Tertia" from Threni, id est Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae, by Igor Stravinsky (bar 4 is in 20
    8
    time).
  • Partially in 214, 218, 2116 or 2132

  • "The Art Of Dying" by Gojira (2008) cycles from 4
    4
    to 2
    4
    to 21
    16
    (grouped 5+5+5+3+3) and repeats this pattern during the intro and beginning of the song.
  • "Deux moulins", from Airs a III. IIII. V. et VI. parties (première livre, 1608) by Claude Le Jeune (first two sections, Rechant à 3 and Réprise à 5, are barred as 21
    4
    ; the last section of the piece is in 20
    4
    ).
  • In the Dead of the Night suite by UK, "contains an instrumental refrain in 21
    16
    ".
  • "Keep It Greasy" by Frank Zappa (On Joe's Garage, the first verse and guitar solo are counted in 19
    16
    and another part is in 21
    16
    ).
  • Klavierstück IX (1954–55/61) by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Bars 6, 17, 120, and 149 are in 21
    8
    time.
  • Sonata for Cello and Piano (1948), by Elliott Carter, includes 21
    32
    time.
  • 228

  • "The First Circle" from the album First Circle by the Pat Metheny Group. Composed by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays.
  • 234 or 2316

  • "Low Light" by Jacky Ligon from his Between Moments EP (2013) is in 23
    4
    .
  • Partially in 234 or 2316

  • "Baboon" by This Town Needs Guns is mainly in 23
    4
    with some 4
    4
    .
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (video game), Ganondorf's battle theme is mostly in 23
    16
    (sometimes with 17
    16
    as a polymeter) with a stray section in 4
    4
    .
  • 241 or 2416

  • "Brobdingnagische Gigue", from Intrada, nebst burlesquer Suite, for two violins (the so-called "Gulliver Suite") by Georg Philipp Telemann is in 24
    1
    .
  • "Prelude no. 15" from The Well-Tempered Clavier, book 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach is in 24
    16
    .
  • 258 or 2516

  • "How's This for Openers?" by Don Ellis (25
    8
    ).
  • "Memory Daydreams Lapses" by OSI (25
    16
    )
  • Partially in 258 or 2516

  • "Tenemos Roads", by National Health includes "some extremely intricate passages in 25
    16
    ".
  • 268

  • "26 Is Dancier than 4" by This Town Needs Guns.
  • 2916

  • "Strong One (Masked Man)" from the Mother 3 soundtrack.
  • 3016

  • "Sonata No. 1", by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. One of the bars is in 30
    16
    .
  • Partially in 328

  • "Variations for Trumpet" by Don Ellis has one section in 32
    8
    .
  • 338

  • "Blues in 33
    8
    " by Matt Savage (33
    8
    ).
  • "Bulgarian Bulge" by Don Ellis (33
    8
    ).
  • Partially in 338

  • "Split Open and Melt" by Phish has a jam section in 33
    8
    .
  • Partially in 348

  • Klavierstück IX (1954–55/61) by Karlheinz Stockhausen. The last two bars are in 34
    8
    time.
  • Partially in 428

  • Klavierstück IX (1954–55/61) by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Bar 3 is in 42
    8
    time.
  • Partially in 4316

  • Study No. 3a for Player Piano by Conlon Nancarrow uses 43
    16
    .
  • Partially in 4716

  • Study No. 3a for Player Piano by Conlon Nancarrow uses 47
    16
    .
  • Partially in 878

  • Klavierstück IX (1954–55/61) by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Bar 2 is in 87
    8
    time.
  • Partially in 1428

  • Klavierstück IX (1954–55/61) by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Bar 1 is in 142
    8
    time.
  • Combined unusual signatures

  • "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles. The main verse pattern contains a total of 29 beats, split into two 7
    4
    measures, a single bar of 8
    4
    , followed by a one bar return of 7
    4
    before repeating the pattern. The chorus, however, maintains a steady 4
    4
    beat with the exception of the last bar of 6
    4
    .
  • "Bastard" by Ben Folds. A combination of the time signatures 3
    2
    , 3
    4
    , 4
    4
    , 5
    4
    , 6
    4
    , and 7
    4
    .
  • "O cachorrinho de borracha" (The Little Rubber Dog), No. 4 from A próle do bébé No. 2 by Heitor Villa-Lobos mixes 11
    8
    , 13
    8
    , 5
    4
    , and 8
    4
    with the usual signatures 3
    4
    and 4
    4
    .
  • "The Dance of Eternity" by Dream Theater. This instrumental contains mixtures of faster and slower beat groupings in 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4. It goes through over 128 time signature changes in just over six minutes.
  • "The Eynsham Poacher", a traditional song; in the arrangement by Dave Pegg, most of the tune is in 12
    8
    , but there are five other time signatures: several single bars at 9
    8
    occur in the refrain and elsewhere; the bridge has a six-bar phrase of three bars at 2
    4
    , one at 6
    8
    , then two at 2
    4
    ; whilst the 9
    8
    finale includes a bar each of 1
    4
    and 4
    4
    .
  • "Firth of Fifth": Introduction, by Tony Banks of Genesis, mixes duple and quadruple meters with 13
    16
    and 15
    16
    signatures.
  • "Fish On" by Primus. The intro has a free time feel, but is transcribed as: 4
    4
    , 2
    4
    , 4
    4
    , 3
    4
    , 4
    4
    , 2
    4
    , 4
    4
    , 2
    4
    , 7
    8
    , 12
    8
    , 14
    8
    , 4
    4
    , 4
    4
    , 12
    8
    (7 times) and 6
    8
    .
  • "Happiness is a Warm Gun", by The Beatles. The first part includes 4
    4
    , 2
    4
    , and 5
    4
    ; the second part includes 3
    8
    ; and third part 9
    8
    and 10
    8
    . The finale includes a sequence of 3 bars of 12
    8
    with the drums doing 4 bars of 4
    4
    and 1 bar of 12
    4
    . "[T]he changes of meter either between or within every section establish themselves as a kind of leitmotif." (Alan Pollack's 'Notes On' series, no. 136).
  • "Here Comes the Sun", by The Beatles. The bridge can be transcribed as 11
    8
    + 4
    4
    + 7
    8
    .
  • "I Say a Little Prayer" by Dionne Warwick uses two measures of 4
    4
    , one measure of 10
    4
    and two measures of 4
    4
    for verses and 11
    4
    for its chorus.
  • "Losing It" by Rush. Intro and verses are composed out of ten bars in 5
    8
    , other parts are in 11
    8
    .
  • "No Time for Games" by Midnight Oil has an introduction and various other parts in 7
    4
    and verse and chorus in 4
    4
    .
  • "On the Floor" by Maartin Allcock. A tune where passages of mixed time signatures (5
    4
    , 4
    4
    , 3
    4
    , 6
    8
    , 6
    4
    , 7
    4
    – with no more than two consecutive bars in the same time) alternate with longer passages in 4
    4
    .
  • Sensemayá by Silvestre Revueltas includes sections in 5 12
    8
    .
  • "Trial Before Pilate (Including the Thirty-Nine Lashes)", from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber, includes 4
    4
    , 3
    4
    , 5
    8
    , 2
    4
    , 6
    8
    , 6
    4
    , 5
    4
    , 7
    4
    , 7
    8
    , and 2
    8
    , and the time signature in the piece varies a total of 41 times.
  • "78341316" by deadmau5 uses the time signatures 7
    8
    , 3
    4
    , 13
    16
    .
  • References

    List of musical works in unusual time signatures Wikipedia


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