Grateful Dead songs with unusual time signatures
The list below sets out some of the Grateful Dead songs in unusual times signatures, or with passages in unusual time signatures.
It does not include the many songs which are essentially in 4/4 but which include the odd bar of 2/4 (or the odd bar of 3/4 - eg Loose Lucy).
It also excludes instrumentals, some of which have complex rhythms (eg Slipknot) and songs in 3/4 time, even though the Dead performed only a few originals in that time signature (eg Clementine, To Lay Me Down and Believe It Or Not).
Viola Lee Blues
The verses consist of 5 bars of 4/4, a bar of 2/4, another 5 bars of 4/4, and another bar of 2/4.
This makes it in essence an 11 bar blues.
Cream Puff War
Most of this is in 4/4 (highly syncopated), but the "Wait a minute" section is in a slower tempo and has 2 bars of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4.
As its name suggests, this is in 11/8 time, mostly played as three beats of three followed by a beat of two - but with all sorts of variations played against each other.
Uncle John's Band
Most of this is in 4/4. But the jam in the middle is in 7/4 - and featured more strongly during the song's developments, as the jam on Dick's Picks Vol 16 demonstrates.
In addition, the first part of the verses consists of three bars of 4/4 followed by a bar of 3/4 (repeated twice).
Playing In The Band
This was originally known as "The Main Ten", and is in 10/4 time - normally two bars of 4/4 followed by a bar of 2/4, though it is sometimes subdivided in different ways.
Pride Of Cucamonga
This alternates between 4/4 time (for the verses) and 6/4 time (for the choruses).
The verses are in 4/4 time (with the Am/C intro to each verse starting on the second beat of a bar). The introduction and instrumental bridge passages use more complex time signatures. The introduction is 2 bars of 6/4, 2 bars of 4/4, 1 bar of 5/4, 2 bars of 6/4 and 4 bars of 4/4. The riff played in unison by guitar and bass after "float like a feather" is in 11/8. And at the end of that instrumental section, there is an odd bar of 3/8 thrown in in the middle of several bars of 4/4.
Blues For Allah
This has a shifting meter, much in 4/4 but with bars of 2/4 and 3/4 interspersed.
Lazy Lightning and Supplication
These are both in 7/4 time.
This is in 7/4 time.
Much of this is in 7/4 time, though there are lots of additional bars of 4/4 which make the overall metre more complicated.
Taking pairs of bars together, the verse sequence is 8/6/7/8/7/7/7, the chorus is 7/7/7/7/8/7/8/7 and the bridge is 7/8/7/8/8/8/7/8/6/8.
Easy To Love You
The verses consist of a bar of 4/4, followed by a bar of 3/4, followed by two bars of 4/4 (repeated twice).
This is certainly rhythmically complex, though mostly within an overall 4/4 bar structure.
Part of the effect is created by varying accents within the bar
(eg the major chord in the introduction comes on the second beat of the bar,
and Bob Weir's vocal lines span mid-bar to mid-bar).
But the song also has lots of bars with three beats against two, or three beats against four.
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