Follow The Transients - A Winner Shares His Secret

Last Friday, I presented our first ever round of "Name That Meter".  A new game where the challenge is to identify the time signature of a loop just by looking at an image of the waveform (two measures in length).  Bizarre?  A bit.  Geeky?  Definitely.  But that's just how we musicians roll.

And much to my amazement, we had a winner within just a few hours of posting the contest.  A loyal Loop Loft reader, "Todd X" (last name witheld to protect his identity.... there will be no stalking of my winners!), blew my mind by identifying the time signature as 15/8.  Not a meter you see or hear everyday, unless you enjoy transcribing Stravinsky scores or have a cassette of Ten Summoner's Tales stuck in your '93 Civic (if that's the case, I feel for you on several accounts).


Not believing this could actually be pulled off with any sort of valid, scientific analysis, I asked Todd how he did it.  And well, he proved me wrong:

"I essentially used your suggestion to follow the transients.  I divided the whole sample in half since there were 2 measures, then tried to chunk up the whole sample into equally spaced transients.  Ignoring a few exceptions where there were no sounds, I figured out there were 15 equally spaced transients per measure.  It was relatively simple, but actually not easy since the beats that were largest in amplitude didn't necessarily correspond to the beats I was expecting to be loudest.  Not being a drummer, it took a little effort to convince myself that backbeats and offbeats are often accented.  The 8 was just a guess, since technically it could have been 15/4 or 15/16 or whatever you chose to be the base length.  But since it looked like a triple type feel, I assumed it would be eighth notes."

So there you go.  The key is to "follow the transients".  Somehow, I feel this very advice could be applied to much more beyond music.  And just to clarify, that's "transients", not "transvestites". Two different things.

And after all of this, you must be wondering what the15/8 loop sounds like?  Well, here it is.  It's a drum loop taken from our popular Odd Meter Bundle, of which Todd is now a proud owner.  

Think you have what it takes to "follow the transients"??  Click here to subscribe to the blog and stay tuned for the next round of "Name That Meter"!

December 05, 2011 by Ryan Gruss
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kent williams

kent williams said:

I didn’t enter because I won the last one and thought someone else should have a chance ;-)

If you listen to that pattern though, it sounds like a measure of 4/4 followed by a measure of 7/8. The first measure is a conventional breakbeat, and the second bar lops off the last 1/8th note.

Not that I’m disputing the 15/8 description — it’s arbitrary how you describe the meter as long as the pulse adds up.


Steve said:

Regardless of the time signature, can we do something about the audio quality? Or, is this some sort of lo-fi collection it will be a part of?

The Loop Loft

The Loop Loft said:

Steve, can you please enlighten us with your high fidelity loops? Or are you too busy posting anonymously on your competitor’s websites?


Todd said:

Steve, not sure what you are referring to. I have the loops and they sound great.


After listening to it, I see your point, it could be written that way. I’ve seen scores that do it both ways…it’s easier to conceptualize with the 4/4 to 7/8 break down, but when it goes on forever all the meter changes are tiresome on the eyes. And of course, in terms of loops, multiple meters would be confusing to the average user. But, as you said, it’s 6 or a half dozen.

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