How to play in 7/8 time? A quick way to wrap your head around it!

A great way to play in odd time signatures is to think about playing within a rhythmical pattern of short and long “quarter” notes. By thinking of short and long rhythms, you are able to feel the time signature rather than counting it.

In 7/8 we can divide the bar into 2 quarter notes and 2 dotted eight notes – like shown below.

This gives us a rhythm with 4 downbeats being different lengths – long,long,short,short. Try to jam along to a clicktrack – i’ve uploaded one below.

YouTube player

Try to come up with some different basslines exploring the groupings of 4 and 3. Here’s a few examples of my own.

Bass line A

Bass line B

Bass Line C

Try to figure out your own bass lines – and see if you can play the ones i wrote down for you!

Other groupings and further exploration:

There are obviously more ways to group 7/8 – and there are endless possibilities for being creative. Here are some other ways to go about it..


Quarters over the barline:

2 over 7

I hope this is useful to you – if you want examples on how to feel comfortable in a odd time signature then check out my free book Introducing 5/8 time here.

Also check out my methodical approach to improvise within a bass line here.

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