Counting 5/4 Odd Time Signature

Easy Drumming That Sounds Hard

Welcome to the first of a series of free drum lessons on the odd-time signature 5/4. Here, your host Dave Atkinson explains the differences between 4/4 and 5/4, and teaches effective ways of counting and developing a solid feel with 5/4 odd-time signature. This free drum lesson is the foundation on which the other free drum lessons on 5/4 build upon. So if you’re taking a stab at 5/4 for the very first time, we HIGHLY encourage you to watch this video before making your way to the 5/4 drum beats and drum fills. We used caps here, so you know we mean business!

Along with 3/4, 5/4 is the best time signature to get you started on the world of odd-time signatures. Think of it as 4/4 with an extra quarter note. This means you’ll be counting to five instead of four. You can subdivide 5/4 into smaller groupings of 2 and 3 counts. So instead of counting all the way to five you’ll do it like so: 1 2 1 2 3 or 1 2 3 1 2. How you subdivide a measure of 5/4 depends on the song or 5/4 drum beats you’re playing. You can use whichever you feel like it – there is no right or wrong here. Since the quarter note is the basic note behind 5/4 odd-time signature, check the free drum lesson “How To Count Quarter Notes” to further educate you on this matter.

Your level of success with 5/4 – or any odd-time signature for that matter – relies on the way you practice 5/4 drum beats and fills. Knowing where count 1 is and counting out loud all the time while practicing 5/4 are key in making this journey a successful and enjoyable one. With time and practice you won’t be counting out loud anymore. You’ll just feel 5/4 as naturally as 4/4. But remember, don’t rush the learning process. If you need to count, count!

Now that you know how to count in 5/4 and are well aware of its importance, it’s time to get this party started by learning your first batch of 5/4 patterns, with the free drum lesson “Beginner 5/4 Drum Beats“.


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