Using Unusual Time Signatures

I was flipping through the channels a couple of weeks ago and I stumbled across a show called The Next Great American Band.  I caught the end of a bands set and they judges started to give their verdicts.  When it got to the final judge, he told the the band that they would never win because their song included some unusual time signatures. I changed the channel as soon as I heard this.  Don’t be as close minded and simple as this ignorant judge. He doesn’t know anything.  I have long been interested in progressive music, partly for its creative use of weird time signatures.  Don’t be plain and follow the plain 4/4 crowd.  Live a little.

Today we are going to take a look at some riffs that use unusual time signatures by Michael Romeo, guitarist for Symphony X.  Romeo is an interesting player.  Personally his leads dont appeal to me. His tone seems really thin and his solos seem like just a period to show-off hs chops rather than a meaningful part of the song.  But the man has some seriously sick riffs. Most of these examples are off of their new album Paradise Lost, since that’s  what I’ve been listening to lately.  I tabbed all of these before they were submitted to tab sites. I’m sure mine are mostly correct but if you want to check out other peoples versions of the songs take a look.


The Serpent’s Kiss– Symphony X

The riff starts at around 33 secs into the song.  The time sigs are as follows:

| 5/8 | 5/8 | 5/8 | 6/8 | 5/8 | 5/8 | 5/8 | 7/8 |.  It’s in E minor.


Paradise LostSymphony X

This is what the acoustic guitar plays when it enters.  This song has a couple of different time sigs. The intro  is as follows:

| 6/8 | 6/8 | 6/8 | 7/8 |.  The part starting at 31 secs is all in 6. Then it switches back to the first pattern at 51 secs. Great Song.


The Walls of Babylon– Symphony X

The riffs starts at 3:15 into the song.

Walls of Baby

Thats is for the new album. Now I want to take a look at a song off of V: The New Mythology Suite called Rediscovery. First is the riff in the segue.

Rediscovery (segue)- Symphony X

This part is repeated over and over again in the beginning.


Rediscovery Pt. 2 : The New Mythology- Symphony X

In this next one, instead of putting the 2/4 in measure 2, it is in measure 4. This one is repeated multiple times in the intro.


One of my favorite parts of the song is at 10:03 when the piano adds to notes to the passage above and plays it with a triplet feel in 4/4. In the original there is a more syncopated feel because the accent falls on the up of the second beat in the 1st and 3rd measures. Because they are triplets in the new variation, the accents fall on downbeats. The difference is very interesting. The piano part is shown below.  Note: Its in  different key than the original.


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2 Responses

  1. very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  2. very helpful! i’m currently working on a 7/8 5/8 7/8 4/4 pattern for a school project; i heard the use of unusual time signatures only sounds good when you can count the whole part through in 4/4.. is that right?
    that would mean i should repeat my pattern at least 8 times, wich will equal 27 4/4 bars.. but that kinda a weird number..

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