I'm wondering what time signature the song "Shark Fin Blues" (from 0:30) would be written as?

When listening, it feels to me like a repeating 3/4, 3/4, 3/4, 4/4, but I don't know how this would be written other than explicitly changing the time signature at the beginning of the bar.

3 Answers 3


It's not so unusual to have time signature changes back and forth in several different kinds of music, and writing in the time signature at the beginnin of a new measure when it changes is the only way I've ever seen it notated.

For example, both The Ocean by Led Zeppelin and March of Pigs by Nine Inch Nails go back and forth between 7/8 and 4/4 and are notated that way explicitly.

The only other way one could do it would be to have overly long measures of something like 13/4 in the case of Shark Fin Blues and that's both cumbersome and almost never reflects the actual rhythms that are intended to be played.


When there is a repeating pattern such as 3/4 + 3/4 + 3/4 + 4/4, it can be written


3+3+3+4/4 time signature

However, for irregular changes, then each (set of) bar(s) must be given its own time signature.


That's exactly what you have to do. Some versions go 3,3,3,3, 3,3,3,4. This goes 3,3,3,4 3,3,3,4. Some songs change frequently, but there's no other simple way to write it out. Actually, it's not complicated to write or read, as the changes are on 4/4 and the next 3/4 bar.

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