Lately I've been getting into "wonky" music,

a subgenre of electronic music known primarily for its off-kilter or “unstable” beats, as well as its eclectic blend of genres including hip hop, electro-funk, chiptune, jazz fusion, glitch, and crunk.

as well as J Dilla beats and "drunk swing".

I'd like to explore this on rhythm guitar, without a drummer.

How do I reproduce and practice Wonky beats accurately at a steady tempo? Wonky beats have the rhythmic equivalent of scalar microtones which makes counting kind of difficult.

  • 1
    Have you got a link to a good clear example of wonky beats? Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 21:19
  • open.spotify.com/playlist/…
    – empty
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 21:32
  • Nice. But I've listened to half a dozen and can't find anything wonky! Well - There's a delayed synth hi-hat on the left in They Act Brand New. and a synth-flute-thing on Can't Get Used To Those which is playing a bit early, but it's all sequenced. The backing tracks are loops. It's all enjoyable, btw. Especially Special ReQuest. Name a track to concentrate on which you think has unstable beats. Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 22:33

2 Answers 2


Just yesterday I stumbled upon a video that covers this topic - it makes uses of quintuplet / septuplets swing:

DAW Grid

You can write your own patterns in a DAW/sequencer, and play along.

Expanding, as from here:

Quintuplet swing subdivides the beat into quintuplets. The first note is three quintuplets long and the second note is two quintuplets. This corresponds to a swing ratio of 3:2 or 60%. It has a more powerful and angular sound than the standard triplet swing.

In septuplet swing , the first note is four septuplets and the second note is three septuplets. This corresponds to a swing ratio of 4:3 or roughly 57%. It has a really hip, lop-sided feel.

You can practice runs of 5/7 notes over a steady 4/4, using ghost notes to skip some beats, or other similar techniques.


(Answering an old question:)

Dividing beats and measures in ways that don't quantize neatly is nothing new. Jazz don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing; Viennese waltz warps the second beat of the measure in ways that are difficult to pin down; French baroque practice has its own sort of swing in the form of notes inegales, performing equal-value notes unequally.

In all these situations, despite these distortions of individual beats or subdivisions of beats, an overall steady tempo is maintained. The key to staying on tempo (and often, to executing these "wonkinesses" without overthinking them) is to focus on the "big picture." Even if four beats in a measure are four different lengths, if each measure is exactly the same length, then one can focus on that periodicity—feel the "bigger groove" of the measures. Even if the rhythmic distortion is changeable, one can lock onto the "milestones" of the larger structure that stay regular.

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