Programming In Unconventional Time Signatures

I’ve started toying with this recently using 7/8, 9/8, and even 13/8 in some of my most recent experimentations. Do any of you use time sigs other than 4/4? Do you make them resolve to a 4/4 at some point, or is it acceptable to create an entire song using nothing but 13/8 sequences?

as simple as it seems to be to some people,i still need to get my head around using "odd"time signatures

Its not that difficult. For example, at 16 LPB a 7/8 sequence is 56 steps instead of 64. You can apply it to any signature, on a basic level, by placing a hi-hat on and in between each “beat”. Count the hits until the sequence starts over making sure to keep them on beat. 7 hits @ 16 LPB = 7/8 = 56 steps. 9 hits at 16 LPB = 9/8 = 72 steps.

Or, for each beat you want to add or subtract from 4/4 (at 16 LPB in Renoise) add or subtract 8 steps from the sequencer and place a hi-hat hit on and between each beat for 8th notes.

1/8 = 8 steps
2/8 = 16 steps
3/8 = 24 steps
4/8 = 32 steps
5/8 = 40 steps
6/8 = 48 steps
7/8 = 56 steps
8/8 = 64 steps

And so on in this fashion Also, 4/8 and 8/8 are 4/4… 3/8 and 6/8 are 3/4… and 3/4 and 4/4 are pretty popular, basic time signatures.

I hope I don’t have this all wrong. I’m definitely not an expert at this, but this is the way I was taught and understand it. There is a bit more to it than what I’ve laid out here though…


i normally use 4/4

bpm 215
lpd 16

There isn’t any imperative to use 4/4 any more than there’s an imperative to end a song going from V to I or to avoid parallel fifths, or not to play a sound backwards. It’s all just a style choice.

yep, just experiment with different patternlengths and their divisions.


There’s the meter and time signatures.

I put a meter variations xrns on the tips and tricks section. The meter variations is set up in 4 time signature as opposed to 64, 32, 16, or 8.

Two things I always keep in mind when setting up a meter and time signature is 1) how the tempo affects its perception 2) how tempo affects being able to change from one time signature meter to another.

In terms of just structure with no rhythm patterns of sound involved… from the ground up, there’s the steady beat with no pulses, then beats with pulses or accented beats (downbeats and upbeats) forming a meter, which then chunk into bars such as a meter of 7 with a time signature of 4 looped say 4 times, then you have your structural phrase or phrases, which form into periods like AABABC, and if in classical terms style, you would then have your movements (edit: like the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony).

Its a rather crude way of describing what I’ve learned so far, I hope it wasn’t too confusing.

time signatures ex: 7/4 7/64 7/32 7/16 7/8
meter ex: 4/7 (4 bars of 7) 3/7 (3 bars of 7)

I recently started a project based on repetitive sequences and anything other than 4/4 works great (example). :)

You should experiment to your heart’s content. It’s great :D