I've always listened to a lot of jazz and heard some weird rhythms, but only this year did my high school offer music theory - and right now, we're learning about rhythm. All we've done so far is transcribing rhythms in non-complex meters, with pretty simple subdivision. But we've been doing a lot of it, so now whenever I hear a rhythm I try to think of how I would write in my head. Usually, it isn't that complicated.

That is, until I listened to "Thrust", by Herbie Hancock:

Now I've heard my fair share of weird, 13/16 or irrational time signatures, but what makes this stand out to me is that as far as I can tell, it's in 4/4. You can try counting along and you'll find that the opening drum groove repeats smoothly after 8 beats.

So then why does it sound so weird, almost as if you're missing half a beat at the end?

  • I don't hear it that way -- it sounds like pure 4/4, but with the drum beats deliberately skipping a few eighth notes here and there. Dec 7, 2018 at 13:38
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    That drum rhythm is crazy and wonderful. Thanks for posting this question so I could get to hear it. Dec 8, 2018 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


It's indeed clearly a 4/4. The confusing part about the drums is that the second bar is syncopated. The kick drums and snares are played one 8th note after the beat, which is unexpected. The pauses, then, make it more difficult to keep track of the rhythm (if the hi-hat kept on playing straight sixteenths, I bet you wouldn't be confused at all).

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