I found this a lot in old songs, but also in quite a few new ones. I love songs that have this, off-beat music playing in the background. I know the song 'Bernadette' by IAMX has it. The beginning of Green Day's 'Viva la Gloria' has it. So does Caro Emerald's 'That Man.' I absolutely adore this so I was wondering:

Does anyone know what this is called in music other than "off-beat" or "syncopation?"

  • You may be referring to a "back beat", a strong pulse on beats 2 and 4 in 4/4 time (for example). Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 3:20

1 Answer 1


The IAMX example is pretty much oom-pah bass, which typically goes root - chord - 5th - chord. The downbeats are strong single notes (from the tuba in a brass band), usually alternating between the root and the fifth of the current chord, and the offbeats are chords (played by the higher pitched horns in a brass band). This puts a kind of emphasis on the off beats since the higher pitched, thicker chords appear on it.

In terms of piano technique, this is stride piano, as exemplified in your Caro Emerald example. This term is more closely associated with jazz styles.

  • I'd embed the wikimedia image that shows the notation for oom-pah bass, but the imagur engine that we use doesn't accept png images.
    – Dave
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 12:32

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