TesseracT – Odd Time Signatures (Part 1) – Music Theory Hacks from “Sonder” for Chord Progressions

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TesseracT has a refreshing approach to time signatures, so in this music theory lesson, you’ll learn their hacks to liberate your chord progressions from 4/4. But first… Tea!
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►Listen to “Sonder” at: https://www.TesseractBand.co.uk
TesseracT band photos by Steve Brown Creative

We’re gonna focus on the theory behind their lead single Luminary from their new masterpiece of an album, Sonder. TesseracT are renowned for perfectly balancing the artistic with the accessible, resulting in incredibly intelligent and creative songs, that are also super catchy! And this is why they appeal to music lovers of all genres, and why the theory in this series can also be used in all genres, and all instruments (so whether you write prog metal / djent guitar riffs or EDM bass lines, this’ll help!). This hack is what TesseracT geniusely use in their Luminary chorus, which is in the key of D minor (AKA D Aeolian). So if you want an EPIC chorus, like Luminary, start by writing a chord progression in a minor key. But, here’s the problem, there’s already a zillion other songs with minor key choruses, so how do you make yours unique? Easy, you just use this hack. Right, here’s how it works. There’s only seven triads in a minor key. So, obviously your chord options are extremely limited. However, there are literally an infinite amount of harmonic rhythms and time signatures you can use for your chord progression. So, the “right place” part of this hack is all about choosing the right chords (in other words, any of these seven), and the “wrong time” part is this hack is all about playing those chords in an unpredictable harmonic rhythm within an unpredictable time signature, or two, like in the Luminary chorus. Here’s how you can use this hack in your own music:

STEP 1:
For that powerful Luminary feel, set your tempo to 78 BPM, and your grid to two bars of 12/8. 12/8 is in the family of time signatures known as “compound time”, and they divide music into groups of three 1/8-notes, which is more drawn out so it feels more dramatic than time signatures in the “simple time” family, like 4/4, which use groups of two 1/8 notes.

STEP 2:
Decide what chords you want to use from the key of D minor, and draw each chord’s root note in your piano roll (you can fill the rest of the notes in later). Here’s the chords we chose: Dm → B♭maj → Cmaj → Am (1st bar) / B♭maj → Gm → Am → Cmaj → Am → B♭maj (2nd bar)

STEP 3:
Apply the “wrong time” part of this hack to your chord progression. TesseracT masterfully twists two bars of 12/8 into one bar of 11/8 and one bar of 13/8, resulting in two odd time signatures replacing one even time signature, it doesn’t get better than that! To pull off this magic trick, all you need to do is steal one 1/8 note from bar 2, and donate it to bar 1. The easiest way to do this, is to choose a chord in bar 1 that you wanna shorten, and a chord in bar 2 that you wanna lengthen. So in bar 1 we decided to shorten the B♭maj, and in bar 2 we decided to lengthen the Am. Now, select all the chords in between those two chords you just changed, and move all that MIDI an 1/8 note earlier. Tada, your chorus just got the TesseracT “wrong time, right place” makeover! And you’ll notice we now have an unpredictable pattern of groups of three 1/8 notes and groups of two 1/8 notes, and that’s exactly what transforms this chord progression from ordinary, to extraordinary!

BONUS STEP:
To make the most of your new and improved harmonic rhythm, be sure to accent the chord changes with your drums.

ABOUT
Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music. Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé (and wife) Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series “Hack Music Theory”, and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more. Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who’s been trained by Ray to teach his Hack Music Theory method! While these Hack Music Theory YouTube lessons teach music theory for producers and DAW users, they are designed to accommodate all music makers (songwriters, guitarists, etc.) and all genres, from Electronic Music to R&B, Pop to Hip-Hop, Reggae to Rock, EDM/Dance to Metal (and yes, we djefinitely Djent!).

►Ray Harmony’s music: https://RevolutionHarmony.com/Ray
►Kate Harmony’s music: https://RevolutionHarmony.com/Kate

Music by Revolution Harmony
(c) 2018 Revolution Harmony

Comments

Stain Stain says:

Teseract!!!!!! One of the best!!!!! But first………….. progressive tea!!!!!!!! Jml

On Song International says:

Cool Cool Channel

beans. says:

You got me back again! Hell yeah!

Ra New says:

So glad I discovered you guys! Just amazing! Greetings from the Netherlands.

Colin Clay says:

Literally did a double take when I saw this, I love Tesseract!

Maniac Muzic says:

Great tips i love ur tutorials

Kira says:

OMG
TESSERACT
They're one of my favorite bands, thank you so much!

M B says:

omg! nice hack guys, this is very impresive and useful!

TheOrangepeak says:

awesome thank you 😀 progressiv metal is wonderful for those kind of tricks 🙂
I did have a band like that before we split and I played the guitar and made the composition work ; now I do acid / hard techno ;
sorry I didn't reply, you asked several times how my musical projects were doing, I prefer not to talk about it because the more I talk about it, the less they have a chance to take life ; but you ask twice then…I work on 2 vinyl releases and on a new live project, I changed my setup, so now I don't use computer anymore, and right now I'm step sequencing all my composition into my hardware synth and drum machines 🙂 cheers and love to you two :p have a very good day 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!
Louis

PhilouGanJa DuB-SelecToR says:

Cool hack. As usual. Great !# !

PhilouGanJa DuB-SelecToR says:

Congratulation for your 8 subs. lol.
Tea time and Tesseract. Cool.
Salute de France !!

HAZARDOUS88 says:

Thanks very much, I love this stuff!

John Dennis says:

I've been following your tips and hacks carefully and to the letter, and getting so much value from them, but I always need to go to the toilet halfway through each video as i'm drinking too much tea and it means I have to rewind and so forth to get back into the groove. Do you have any hacks that could solve this?

oli lange says:

nice hack 🙂

Leftham Sam says:

I'm still reeling at how lucky I am to have seen these guys last week. Thanks for the fantastic video as always!!

Clement Clement says:

Thank you so much for these videos. They are really clear, fun and simple to understand. Keep up the awesome work !

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