Odd Time Signatures in Video Game Music - accordion-games.com

Odd Time Signatures in Video Game Music

8-bit Music Theory
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Everyone loves odd meters, right? Whether it’s to add a little wrinkle in an otherwise straightforward tune, or an attempt to completely discombobulate the listener, odd time signatures are one of my favourite ways to add interest to a piece of music. In this video I take a look at some of my favourite examples of odd meters in video game music and the effects that they have on each piece.

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48 Comments

  1. How in the hell could you think that's a xylophone lmfao

  2. What about strong one – masked man, the 71907/40120 song because of a programming oversight, though composed as 29/16

  3. Love videos like this cause I know nothing about music and yet you sound interesting and so I watch the video without comprehending a thing. Kinda like that clone high meme, “I like your funny words magic man”

  4. You should talk about the big boss of wierd Time Signatures: Splatoon 3 Salmon Run Music. This Music is supposed to deliver pure chaos and oh boy chaos it is.

  5. once i played a song in 13.5/4 and it was extreme pain as one who plays the euphonium

  6. 4:40 I was wondering why this sounded so familiar. I’ve never played this game and I don’t know the song but I was thinking it sounds like something I’ve heard before. Of course, because it’s Joe Hisaishi. I know his style and it’s so recognizable. That guy can write!

  7. my non-musically-inclined little brain was shocked when I found out Twilight Princess's Ganondorf duel theme is 3/4 and they've just put the notes in atypical places. To me it feels no less "asymmetrical" than some of these "odd time sigs" >_>

  8. Marx’s theme also fits because of just how chaotic the little bastard is as well

  9. No mention of the 11/8 victory theme in MK64?

  10. You need to remake this video but have it purely dedicated to Hakita/Heaven Pierce Her.

    In "Pandemonium" it swaps between 7/4, 2/4, and 5/4
    or "The Fire is Gone" is at a contstant 12/8
    "Order" at 6/4
    He does not do anything normally, only better.

  11. I honestly have lots of respect for videogame composers. I’ve learned a lot of pieces that I’ve enjoyed and loved, and realised just how much thought and effort goes into making something memorable or fit the atmosphere of the game.

  12. My heart jumped a bit when I saw that 23/16. I'm a drummer who occasionally plays trumpet. I don't jump with joy when I see these non-sensical time signatures. No, I cower in fear.

    What the heck did Koji Kondo make?

  13. I use a lot of odd time signatures in my music, refusing to conform to any standard 4/4 or 3/4. But this video pointed out something that I didn't think too much of. I'm melody first in my writing, so I add or subtract beats from any given measure to make my vision work. I'm thinking of a music teacher who was a real jerk to a friend of mine because he loved odd time signatures. She told him it doesn't need to be odd, just use normal time signatures. Hearing that pissed me off like you couldn't believe. He never let it get to him, though. He just disowned her and kept writing really cool music with awesome and dynamic time signatures. In my opinion, normal time signatures are almost suffocating, there's no good reason to stick to them when you find your melody calling for more or less room.

  14. The 5/4 Clave is also used in "Don't Be Afraid" from Final Fantasy VIII.

    "Water and water and water water"

  15. I was looking for this video again! Mainly because I was trying to explain time signature and irregular time signature through video game music by using the Metal Slug series with one of its signature boss music, Steel Beast, and its variations, as an example. The are even titled after what time signature they use. Steel Beast 5beets uses 5/8, Steel Beasts 6beets uses 6/8, and Steel Beasts 6+7beets which shifts between 6/8 to 7/8 after each bar and could hypothetically be read as 13/16.
    You can really hear the time signature during middle parts the songs. It's almost kind of a running gag that that this specific song has a different time signature every time.
    There are other Metal Slug songs that have unusual time signatures, It's Steel Beast one that sticks out in my head the most.

  16. There are some notable examples in Splatoon's Salmon Run with songs like Deluge Dirge (7/8) Frastic Aspsic (7/8 and 5/4) and even Fishing Frenzy (31/16)

  17. meanwhile splatoon 2 having a track in 31/16:

  18. just wait until he finds out about frothy waters from Splatoon 3's salmon run. he's gonna have fun with that.

  19. Amazed you didnt talk about the crazy time signatures used in Star Ocean music. When you mentioned prog rock, i thought for sure it was coming.

  20. Flesh Prison/Panopticon: WHAT THE FUCK IS A TIME SIGNATURE?!

  21. The Kirby example isn't really as random as it seems. You can analyze it pretty easily under a rhythmic cell analysis that Messiaen helped to popularize. Basically, you have various cells of varying lengths which are represented by letters. Traditionally, there is one that remains constant while any others are subject to augmentation or diminution. So in this case, let's say A is a hyper meter of 7 quavers, B is a hypermeter of 6, and C is a hypermeter of 10. Any other hypermeters, we'll call A' or A'' and so on

    Then going through your excerpt, you can describe the whole passage as: ABA'BCBB BBCBB

    A space is inserted for what sounds to me to be a section change.

    So from that, in the first section, you see a pretty clear pattern emerge. You have a basic shape of AB which augments with every single iteration. AB is 13. A'B is 15. CBB is 22.

    The second section is clearly symmetrical and taken as a unit, we can say it continues the pattern of augmentation with a length of 34. And if we include the intro not shown in the video which is BB and has a length of 12, we see that pattern of continual augmentation even further with total units of 12, 13, 15, 22, 34.

    Furthermore, you may argue that A 'develops into' C systematically through augmentation since there's a straight growth and C replaces A in the shape. And that B 'develops into' BB, which would just as easily replace with D. Then we'd get ABA'BCD DCD for an even cleaner view.

    Of course, I'm applying a form of analysis that was used for literal rhythms to hyper meters, which maybe people would argue isn't analogous. But to my understanding, in metered music, surface rhythms are just ornamentations of deeper metrical patterns, which are felt as long as the ornamentations don't excessively and prolongedly obscure the meter. But in essence, what I see here isn't anything different than what is famously done in The Rite of Spring.

    It'd be cool if maybe you talked about this in a future rhythm video, but I understand if there aren't enough good examples in the video game canon.

  22. I love that you not only described how each time signature works within itself, but the different ways that they have been used to convey moods, really helps round out the whole subject

  23. Some pieces with odd time signatures that spoke to me:

    · "Hyrule Castle" from Breath of the Wild: Mostly in 5/4, but sprinkles in 6/4 measures for added effect. Also, the section that plays the series callback (either LoZ1's "Overworld" or OoT's "Zelda's Lullaby" depending on where you are on the premises) is entirely in 6/4

    · "Winning Results" from Mario Kart 64: Constant 11/8. It makes for a challenging but cool jazz piece. Also used in Mario Kart 7, but rearranged into 4/4 for Mario Kart Tour

    · "Super Battleworn Insomniac" from Rhythm Doctor: Starts in 4/4, but switches to 7/8 partway through. The Day version, "Battleworn Insomniac", is a straightforward 4/4, press on beat 4, but the Night version not only is faster and more "corrupted" but also, after a bit, chops an 8th note off the end of every measure!

  24. 0:31 "It's stuck up cousin 3/4 time" 🤣 I've never put a face on a time signature before, but that's somehow spot on lol

  25. In a game called mother 3, there is a song called "strong one (masked man version) the time signature is 29/16 (rounded) it's actually 28.67667/16

  26. What a great this vid is. This is like 7 videos worth of content

  27. IMO, a measure of 23/16 in Ganondorf's piece is best counted with 9 beats, as if it were 9/8 + 2/2 + 6/8 + 2/2

  28. Man, i forgot how much i really liked ni no kuni 2, lol

  29. I don't know how common it is, but I'm interested in microtonal music, and I had already learned about Trees From the Depths of the Earth, from the Great Cave Offensive in Kirby Superstar, and just found out about the Submerged Castle theme from Pikmin 2, was wondering if you could touch on that.

  30. i am guitarist and love finding odd time signatures in music myself.. i listen to a lot of stuff and play that songs often too, so i notice the similarities between different songs and finding something odd is always refreshing and satisfying.. reason why i love them video game songs <3

  31. 23/16 Ganon music is the craziest piece of video game music ever.

  32. Not to be like that, but stringing together a bunch of same length notes in a row is not very complex rhytmically, even if it might be in an odd time signature

  33. Also, the battle theme 'Vs Ridley' is in the time signature 5/8, with the intro being in 4/4.

  34. honestly vs marx is the first song i think of when i hear "odd time signatures"

  35. 4:35 i literally have never heard leave taking before this moment, my whole body has goosebumps

  36. In Balkans odd rhythms are a standard.

  37. Love portnoy for show us how to read the dance of eternity lyrics correctly..

  38. “Suicide Mission” from Mass Effect 2 is predominantly in 7/8, with a breakdown in the middle that reverts to the 3/4 of the main theme from Mass Effect 1 as a callback, before returning to the 7/8 for the finish.

  39. My go-to weird time signature BGM in a video game is the Castle Bleck theme from Super Paper Mario. It switches between 3/4, 4/4, 13/8 (!), 6/8, and 15/8 (!!) at certain points. (Not very good with time signature by ear only, so if any are wrong, please correct me!)

  40. My musical knowledge took 999999 damage from this video! These music theories are pure INSANE
    Damn as a science major I will NEVER master the eldritch art of arrangement of those Japanese composers. What a blackhole of knowledge! I arrange some random notes and they either sound nothing uncommon or nothing sense/nonsense.

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