Daily Practice 14: 5/8 Over 4/4

In this video I’m working on playing All The Things in 4/4 on piano. Half notes in the bass and 3rds and 7ths grouped in 5/8.  This piano exercise  helps me to play 5/8 against 4 while playing my saxophone.  Just to be clear, the grouping of 5/8 in my right hand is a quarter note followed by a dotted quarter note throughout the form of the tune.  This 5/8 grouping creates harmonic anticipation and harmonic suspension against the 4/4 half notes in the bass.  It will help you to blur the bar line a bit and improve your rhythmic concept.

~ Enjoy!



  1. William Henderson

    Hello Mr. Otto,
    My name is Will, and I’ve been interested in your videos and page for a while. I’m one who only dinks around with music but who wants to learn more. Some of these practices are great.
    However, this is what I’m wondering.
    In your latest video, you were playing the piano, and one hand was playing 5/8 while the other was playing 4/4 time. The very thought of two different rhythmic feels or time signatures baffles me, so obviously this video would go way over my head.
    I guess I’m not the world’s greatest rhythm guy anyway.
    What are some good strategies or exercises you could give to improve being able to work with different time signatures and feel them at the same time?
    I was trying this just using my instrument, but frankily, the instrument added another level of confusion or complexity.
    Any ideas I can try?
    Thanks much.
    Will Henderson

  2. Otto

    Will, thanks for the comment. You could start by playing 7th chords or triads in groups of 5 – some examples: A C major triad played like this: C E G E G, could be thought of as five 8th notes. Just loop that five 8th note cell and begin to hear what 5/8 sounds like on its own. You could also play a C major 7th chord like this: C E G B G which is also 5 notes and could played as a stream of constant 8th notes also producing what could be thought of as 5/8. Vary the way you play the triads or 7th chords always keeping them in some group of five 8th notes. I hope that starts to help.
    Matt Otto

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