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How to choose a time signature for your next song, using drum loops

In Western cultures, songs in 4/4 are in no short supply. Because much of popular music today is dance music, 4/4 is the go to time signature since it’s easy to find the beat and dance to, even for those with no musical training.

Time Signature for SongwritingListen to your audience!

When considering how to choose a time signature for your next song, there are some who would argue that 4/4 is overused, boring and repetitive. This group would urge you to try different time signatures and branch out. I urge you to consider the genre of music you want to be in and the audience that you want to impress, and choose your time signature based off of that.

Drums On Demand (DOD) offers drum loops in various time signatures, including: 4/4, 3/4, 6/8, 12/8, 5/4, 7/4 and 6/4. Here is a list of these time signatures, along with some of the genres they can be heard in:

4/4: Also known as Common Time, this time signature is heard in pop, rock, funk, blues, country and other Western genres. 

3/4: This time signature is sometimes heard in pop, but is used more often in R&B, country, ballads, scherzi, minuets and waltzes. 

6/8: This is sometimes used in rock music, but is mainly heard in polka songs, marches, Irish songs, jigs and more.

12/8: Can be used in shuffle, blues and doo-wop songs. It can also be heard in some rock songs. Beethoven even used this time signature.

5/4: Rock (especially progressive rock), Jazz, Classical, and other complex orchestral music use the 5/4 time signature.

7/4: This odd time signature can be heard in rock and jazz songs and is often used to stir things up a bit in a song and then get resolved by 4/4 or another time signature. Pink Floyd’s “Money” is a good example of that. Although, Soundgarden’s “Outshined” remains a solid 7/4 throughout. It can be heard in Asian and European Art music.

6/4: Rock, heavy metal, and other progressive genres use 6/4 time.

Let the drum loops be your guide!

If you know who you are trying to attract with your music, choose the time signature that will be most comfortable and familiar to that group. Then, grab your copy of DOD drum loops that matches your need and drop the loops into your song. Your song will naturally come together and you can write your song around the drum loops, or drop the loops in around your music, to make the process easy.

With the patented Drums On Demand drum loops organization system, it is extremely easy to put your song together. Choose the song set, tempo you want, and then select the different loop elements to match the structure of your song. Here’s a video that shows how easy that process is:

Listen to our Drum Loop samples!

If you are looking to branch out, try different time signatures, and are unsure of how to do that; visit the drum loops page on the DOD website. You will be able to listen to all of the different styles and time signatures that are offered there until you find the feel you want for your music.

You have the option of selecting stereo WAV tracks where the drum loops are pre-mixed, or you can select the multitrack drum loops option so you can have more control over your mix. We also have MIDI Drum Loops available for those who want to use MIDI.

Best of luck choosing the right time signature for your song! I’ll be writing more about time signatures and other songwriting tips in the near future. Stay tuned!


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