Suppose I was in 15/8 meter, so compound quintuple meter. This would be a grouping of 3-3-3-3-3. But suppose instead I wanted to group my meter 5-5-5. This would not be simple or compound. I was under the impression "odd meter" was groups of 2s and 3s, so like for 7/8, we have 2-2-3 as an option. But, for this case of 5-5-5, what would the term for this in music theory be?

  • Not really a type, but one could use beaming to show the grouping. Similarly, three dotted-quarter, then quarter combinations could be used, perhaps with slurs to show phrasing (at least on a piano.) It doesn't seem that it should be hard to either read or play if a little care is taken in the notation.
    – ttw
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 14:15
  • Browsing through some old questions...is there more you're looking for in an answer to this one?
    – Aaron
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 1:35

2 Answers 2


Because there are three primary beats in each bar, it would be considered triple meter and very possibly would be written as an additive meter (5+5+5/8) to avoid ambiguity.

"Odd meter" would still apply at the subdivision level, because groups of 5 are interpreted as 3+2 or 2+3.


A little reticent to get involved here, but...

It seems that compound time only goes as far as quadruple. No idea why, surely there's nothing wrong with quintuple et al. Maybe that's as far as they counted when the 'rules' were made!

And compound must divide by three. Not really reflected in the word used, but that's another story.

Three 'beats', each subdivided into 5 can't help but work, although hardly mainstream, would be felt as pretty 'regular', although 5 is often divided itself into 2+3 or 3+2. Written down on a stave, the grouping could be self-explanatory, by use of the beams.

15/8 could of course be subdivided any old way, 4+4+4+3, for example, but that would need to be explained at the top of the sheet.

  • Perhaps it is just that compound time with larger number of beats is simply uncommon, rather than "against the rules". Even 9/8 and 12/8 are considerably less common than 6/8, and seeing how uncommon 5/4 is, whilst 3/4 and 4/4 are very common, it is not surprising that 15/8 as a compound time signature is essentially unheard of. Of course it would work fine and I suspect there may be examples of 'modern' arrangements of 'trad' e.g. Celtic or European folk tunes which are in 15/8
    – Judy N.
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 11:48

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