7/8 Grooves In Simple Time

An introduction to playing basic simple time grooves in 7/8.

Make sure you've read through our lesson on Time Signatures before working through this lesson.

When discussing time signatures like 4/4, 6/8 and 3/4 in our level one lessons they all fell in to the category of either simple or compound and were really only used in that category. You would be forgiven for assuming 7/8 is a compound time signature because of the '8' on the bottom, however it can actually be either. In this first lesson you will be playing 7/8 in simple time.

To identify whether a bar of 7/8 is in simple time look at the grouping of the eighth and sixteenth notes, the usual simple time groupings will apply. So if you are seeing quavers mostly grouped in twos or fours and sixteenth notes mostly joined in fours you have 7/8 in simple time. Because this time signature has an odd number of eighth notes this isn't always a reliable way to work it out. The second clue is the snare placement. If the pattern is in simple time, the snares will mostly fall on quarter note counts, in compound time they will mostly be on '+' counts.

You can think of simple 7/8 as either 3/4 with an extra quaver or as 4/4 with a quaver cut off. You will quite often see 7/8 grooves or fills constructed using this as basis.

You would count a bar of simple 7/8 '1 + 2 + 3 + 4'. Notice that there is no '+' at the end of the bar, the next count after 4 would be 1.

Listed below are several examples of simple 7/8 grooves. For this introductory lesson I have only used eighth and quarter notes, in later lessons will add all sorts of nonsense to create really intricate groove patterns.


Example 1

A simple 4/4 pattern cut short to create a 7/8 groove.

A simple 7/8 groove


Example 2

A 3/4 waltz style groove extended by an eighth note to make it 7/8.

A simple 7/8 groove


Example 3

Another 4/4 groove pattern cut short to make it 7/8.

A simple 7/8 groove


Example 4

When quarter notes are used on the right hand, the last beat of the bar has to be an eighth note. This makes the last beat of the bar and the first beat of the next bar right next to each other.

A simple 7/8 groove


Example 5

Another example using quarter notes on the right hand.

A simple 7/8 groove


Example 6

Notice that this bar sort of has the affect of being half in simple time and half in compound time.

A simple 7/8 groove


TASKS

  • Learn the grooves above up to a tempo of at least 130bpm.
  • Think about fill construction in simple 7/8.
  • Create some 4 bar phrases in simple 7/8. For now, use three bars of a groove followed by one bar of a different groove.