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“.




  • Rose says:

    Thanks! That was really helpful. I was having trouble with the song “I’ll be Seeing You” by Billie Holliday. Am I correct that it’s in 5/4 time? I’m a ballroom dancer and my fellow ballroom dancers seem to think I’m an idiot for suggesting that it’s 5/4 time – perhaps I am! Haha! But the “hippopotamus” trick seems to get me on the one every time when I count it.

  • Ernest Garcia says:

    more 5/4 and odd time lessons would be very helpful, i also found that finding the start of the new bar, or the ‘1’ was very difficult, the hippopotamus thing was very handy.

  • Tony says:

    Can you tell me what song is playing in the end of the video?

    • Jonata says:

      kamele5se5 It is called NEED.You go to let’s say Japan and stay at a big hotel. You except people there to speak English when addressing you. The German guy goes to the very same hotel. He might not except the clerk to speak German but surely excepts him to speak English. I go (yeah, in my dreams) to the same hotel you two are in. I don’t except the clerk to speak Spanish so.. I will use English.So, thanks to the idea that English is a world language , we must be able to use it. I am sure most of those English friends you have, if in Germany, will be tempted to go back to English because they know the clerk will have at least some command of the language.Besides, we have way more contact with English than you with any other language. Films, music, newscasts, software, internet. I bet it is harder for any of us (except Indian pals) to get a movie in Hindi than in English.We get more practice than you do. And I am not talking about classroom time or style. It is just that, if I need information, I first look it up in English because it’ll be easier to find it. You’ll do the same but not practicing any foreign language at the same time.

  • Mike says:

    more 5/4 and odd time lessons would be very helpful, i also found that finding the start of the new bar, or the ‘1’ was very difficult, the hippopotamus thing was very handy.

  • roger says:

    make more vids

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