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I'm looking for some complex songs (regardless of genre) that include a large amount of time signatures and time signature changes, with preferably many odd time signatures included.

For example: “Dance of Eternity” by “Dream Theater” 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.

“Trial Before Pilate” by “Andrew Lloyd Webber (Jesus Christ Super Star)” is another good example, though not nearly as complex.

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closed as off-topic by Dave, Shevliaskovic, Dom, Dr Mayhem Jul 15 at 14:56

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Hi Othya - unfortunately, this type of question is not on topic here. The proposed Music Fans site is something you may be interested in. Read about it here: meta.music.stackexchange.com/q/799/104 –  Dr Mayhem Jul 15 at 14:58
    
i don't think there's a definitive answer for this question. But Rush is known for changing time signatures aaaaall the time. –  Stephen Hazel Jul 15 at 15:34

3 Answers 3

"March of the pigs" off of the downward spiral by Nine Inch Nails flips between 3 bars of 7/8 and one bar of 4/4 during the verses. The choruses are in 4/4, as are the end of the choruses, but the ends have a complete change of feel.

"La Mer" off of The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails starts out in 3/4, and stays there, but when the drums enter they are in 4/4, so there's a nice metric dissonance there. Also, the first song on the same album is in 3/4, but the original feel gets shifted by one eighth note once the drums come in. The penultimate song on the album is particularly complex: the overall feel, especially once the pounding drums enter is 4/4 at 110 bpm. However, the sneering tritone line that moves from synthesizers to guitars across the course of the song is at 147 bpm, alternating 2 12/8 bars with a 2/4 bar. (There are a lot of different ways to describe what's going on here actually, including just calling it a super-complex syncopation, but this is the analysis I find most interesting.)

In the "classical" world, don't forget Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, especially if you can get ahold of the score. He does similar stuff in a lot of his work, including The Firebird and Petrushka. Bartók is another good one to look at, try his fourth string quartet.

Essentially anything by Meshuggah fits the bill. Lots of complex- and multi-meter on Destroy, Erase, Improve, and by the time you get to the full-album-length song I the shifting is too constant to even reasonably apply a time signature. At least that's Jonathan Pieslak's analysis in his article "Re-casting Metal" in Music Theory Spectrum.

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A nice example is Mother by Pink Floyd. It has 5/4 and 9/8 (both often for exactly one bar), 4/4, 12/8. This song is quite interesting because you hardly hear anything weird about it, until you start actively counting the beats. In my opinion, there are few songs that handle frequent time signature changes so well.

Another nice example is the Apocalypse in 9/8 part of Genesis' Supper's Ready suit. The rhythm section is in 9/8, with the organ solo playing 4/4 and 7/8 over it. This sounds really interesting, but in my opinion it's a bit strange for the sake of strangeness.

Also, Animals by Muse. As per a certain wiki dedicated to Muse:

'Animals' is a unique composition in Muse's discography, being the band's first full song to use a 5/4 time signature, and marking their first use of polymeters as a band, (previously used in Hoodoo with a string section): during the outro, the drums play in 4/4 while the other instruments remain in 5/4. It's also the first Muse song written in the key of E♭ minor. The progression in the chorus is similar to Screenager. The bridge that leads into the guitar solo bears a resemblance to the outro of Unnatural Selection. Throughout the guitar solo, the band plays 3 bars of 5/4; the 4th bar being 6/4. Throughout this solo, the crash is hit in 5/2 time for two bars, and then 11/4 for the next two bars in a similar fashion.

And so many more examples...

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Pat Metheny's The First Circle, which starts of with clapping in 22/8, don't get much more odd than that! Incredible piece, I've heard it played by a big band called the Bristol Hornstars, and it's one of the most incredibly intricate pieces I've ever heard.

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