# How does one analyze tricky time shifts?

It can be hard to analyze time changes if one isn't used to odd rhythms. If we take a section of the track Divine Moments of Truth by Shpongle as an example, since it's changing timing several times (almost like a cascade, unlike anything I have ever heard elsewhere), how would one go about analyzing it? It occurs approximately 2:10-2:40 in the track : Shpongle - Divine Moments Of Truth at 2'10".

Is there a time signature change, an uneven number of bars/beats, a swing change, or simply a rearrangement of beats (perhaps with some polyrhythm against the other instruments)? If a rearrangement of beats, can anyone explain this in depth?

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– user28
Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 14:27

What is happening is that they change the interpretation of the rhythm of the repeating melodic figure. First you have a triplet or 12/8 feel, where each note of the melodic figure is interpreted as an eighth note (or eighth triplet, if you think in triplets). Here you have four beats before the pattern repeats. Then the same melodic figure (continuing at the same tempo) is re-interpreted as sixteenth notes, i.e. you end up with 3 beats before the pattern repeats.

So those 12 eighth notes (or triplets) are first divided over 4 beats of 3 notes, whereas later the same notes (now interpreted as sixteenth notes) are divided over 3 beats of 4 notes. So the constant melody remains the same but its rhythmic interpretation changes.

Here some quick hand-written rhythmical notation of what I've tried to explain above. The length of one eighth note in the 12/8 bar is the same as the length of one sixteenth note in the 3/4 bar.

• 12/8 and 3/2, maybe? Or 12/16 and 3/4? Usually works better when you keep the base value the same, so that you can use ♪=♪. Not sure I'd even notate a metre change, though - it's fairly standard hemiola, and it really shows in the accompaniment to that melodic figure. The melodic figure whose rhythm you've written out here is syncopated in either metre, and hence rather neutral - it tends to change its significance depending on whether the (very simple) accompaniment is beating 2 to a bar or 3 to a bar.
– user16935
Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 10:52
• @Patrx2: In my opinion, not notating a metre change at all would be not true to the music, because I feel a very noticeable change in metre. But that's of course subjective, as is the discussion about 12/8 or 12/16, and 3/2 or 3/4. I've just chosen the most common metres (in popular music). If you prefer the others, they'll do the job as well. Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 12:29
• Matt, in classical music, for something this straightforward, we normally don't mark a new metre, because the base units and measure length don't change. The accompaniment here, switching between dotted crochets (or minims) and undotted crochets (or minims), would make the situation clear at a glance. Example? Any number of Brahms' works - hemiola was a fingerprint of his - but the Intermezzo Op. 116 no. 1 comes immediately to mind (6/8, with 3/4 bars indicated by crochets).
– user16935
Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 13:35
• @Patrx2 I think some difference may come in the pop/classical dichotomy with regard to Matt's analysis, which is how I hear it as well; I tend to see different thinking on how to describe signatures and the way polyrhythms and odd measures meet up, depending on whether pop or classical is the topic at hand.
– rcd
Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 7:03
• @rcd: Not sure if I understand your question about "pop syntactical sugar ...". What is it exactly that you're looking for? Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 8:42