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In rock music (or jazz, or pop, or funk) it is a common practice to make accents on every second quarter note in 4/4 time signature. But it is also quite common to make accents on every second eighth note, music gets agitated feel when this accenting happens. So, what is the conventional way to notate such a meter? I want to use a 8/8 time signature but I understand that this is not conventional at all (makes sense for me though). Is it double time feel? So, is it enough to write 'double time feel' in the beginning of a section with such accenting? It is conventional to do so with shuffle feel, I've seen it a lot of times in transcriptions.

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    Sure, that is double time.
    – Lazy
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 9:50
  • See this answer to a question about meter and emphasis. Time signature isn’t expected to convey everything about “feel”; just the broadest foundation of organizing time. Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 10:42
  • There's a section in 'Minnie the Moocher, that just says 'doubler le tempo' in a big band arrangement - the dots are just the same as the rest.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 10:32
  • Double-time feel means make it sound like you've just doubled the tempo and has nothing to do with accents. The term "Swing" or "Swing eights" does suggest accenting the off-beat, although that also implies that it's more iambic (the unaccented eighth is slightly longer than the accented one). For straight eighths with the second one accented, write eighths with the second accented. If it goes through the whole piece you could add "simile" to make it easier to write.
    – Duston
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 13:43
  • @Duston, I understand that double-time feel has nothing to do with accents per se. But if the traditional accenting in rock music is on every second quarter then double-time feel automaticaly means that a player should accent every second eigth note. In a lot of Latin music, for example, accents are put on a first and a third quarter; then double-time would mean that a player should accent every quarter. Do you agree with me?
    – Nick Sm
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 15:23

3 Answers 3

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In popular music 8/8 will just be confusing. Yes, write 'double time feel'.

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Using a simple low-high bass snare-ish rhythm to demonstrate here are your options. The images are below all the descriptions.

The first is double time feel. Double time feel is indicated more or less as a courtesy since someone playing this literally will play it correctly without the indication. Some, myself included will say that seeing the words will affect the way you play slightly so I think it’s a good idea to include it. As you can see pulses per measure do not change in double time feel.

The second is cut time. Cut time maintains the same pulse but has only two pulses per bar so the effect is that the notation is the same for both. The thing about cut time is that it is used more for classical, opera, musical theater, etc. than it is for contemporary music.

Finally is the shuffle feel you mentioned. I wrote this in 12/8 for rhythmic accuracy. Since shuffle is not straight eighth notes when you do a double time feel it will not literally sound the same way as the original feel twice as fast since every other eighth note is actually the third number of a triplet. If you want the shuffle to be twice as fast then you must write it as “Double time feel, swing sixteenths” or literally make it double time with a metronome marking for clarity.

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  • > Double time feel is indicated more or less as a courtesy since someone playing this literally will play it correctly without the indication. Maybe it's correct for drummers, because if a drummer sees that there is a snare drum beat on every second 8th note than it's probably double-time feel. But how will other players know that there is double-time in place? (Sorry, I don't know how to lay out a quote properly).
    – Nick Sm
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 15:46
  • Let me give you an example - Kiss - Naked City. Verses are in standard time feel, but choruses are in double-time feel. A simple song but this change of pace makes it interesting and it's quite important for a player to catch this switching. But if a player doesn't know the song and sees a score for the first time then how will he/she know about all this stuff if there are no notifications?
    – Nick Sm
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 15:49
  • In the case of “Naked City” I interpret it the opposite way. The intro establishes the regular time (which is the same as the choruses) and the verses are half time feel. Regardless of that the issue is the same. As I said in my answer I personally feel it is important to include “double time feel” or “half time feel” but if the music is notated note for note and not just say, chord symbols or slashes, regardless of instrument it will at least be played accurately. If it is just chords or slashes then it’s mandatory to include the double time instruction to get the desired feel. Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 16:31
  • Now I understand your point. Thank you for the help!
    – Nick Sm
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 8:45
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Don't even bother with "double time feel". Just use 4/4 time with accents. I'm pretty certain the lone arrangement of "Funkytown" I had to play in school jazz band both never had that indication and accented every second 8th note. ...And it was in 4/4 time.

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