Tigran Hamasyan’s crazy polymetric time signatures

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Tigran Hamasyan is a Armenian jazz pianist well known for his use of odd and unusual time signatures. Tigran himself has described his track "Entertain Me" from the 2015 album Mockroot as being in a meter of 256 beats per bar! But how does that really operate in practice?! Let's take a closer take a look at the different layers of complexity in the meter of this amazing piece of music.

The outro music to this video is my track "The Longest March" which you can hear completely on Spotify:.

Tigran Hamasyan, Mockroot, track by track:.
" Amuse Me" drum tab:.
Arthur Hnatek carrying out "Amuse Me":.
" Amuse Me" transcription:.
" Entertain Me" visual analysis:.


And, an extra special thanks goes to Douglas Lind, Vidad Flowers, Ivan Pang, Waylon Fairbanks, Jon Dye, Austin Russell, Christopher Ryan, Toot & Paul Peijzel, the channel's Patreon saints!.


0:00 Introduction.
0:22 "Captivate Me" by Tigran Hamasyan.
2:08 35/16 time.
3:30 5/16 & 3/16 time.
4:32 Pianote.
5:30 the drum polymeter!
9:29 Conclusion.

Tigran Hamasyan’s crazy polymetric time signatures

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    1. I love these odd and complex time signature videos! I hope you will explore sometime the rich music of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, particularly that of the Gypsies. The Time Signatures and Poly-Rythms of this music is fascinating and hypnotic. Thank you for doing such a great job!

  1. What a convenient and extremely useful way to notate a song incredible stuff david

    1. @hifijohnwell yeah of course he wants attention. People don’t make educational videos like this for themselves to watch

    2. @hifijohnugh just like how authors write books for people to read them 🙄

  2. Tigran makes amazing music, big fan. And yeah, his time signatures do get a bit wacky from time to time…

  3. I love that during half the lines, it sounds like David is about to break out laughing

    1. You mean like how you can count “Take Five” as “one…two…three-four”

  4. Every Tigran song is just 4/4 with some weird accents and that’s why I love it, weird time signatures can sometimes be just complexity for the sake of it, but this weird times kinda emerge organically from his style of composition

    1. Mmm, seems more like complexity for the sake of it to me. It’s the only thing remotely notable about this. Pretentious and pointless.

    2. @maverator the way he composes those things is that he thinks of macropaterns, so he probably just played with some frases using 5s and 3s and arived at the 35/16 frase, played it a couple of times and realized he could make it fit a 4/4 grid if he played one bar of 11 every 7 bars

      It’s not like he sat in front of the piano and figured he would make a 256/16 song because he’s so smart, it just emerged naturally from his style of using groups of 5,3,7 etc.

      There a very good David Bruce video where he talks with a guy that works with tigran and he explains more how it’s actually not that complicated

    3. ​@maverator So you’re saying this complexity adds nothing? You don’t think it creates a feel completely different from normal time signatures or even odd time signatures without a polymeter? Yeah that’s ridiculous. You may not like it but a lot of people do and the complexity isn’t at all just for the sake of it

    4. Levitation 21 is FAR from just 4/4 with weird accents. Lots of polymeter and other shenanigans in that song.

  5. Me (the band’s new drummer): So what song are we going to practice?

    The band: We need you to count to 256 every bar. Don’t mess up!

    Me: *literally dies*

  6. Even though Tigran apparently says this himself, I feel it might be in a slightly joking manner. This song, like every single Meshuggah song, and most of Tigran’s music, should be primarily be understood as 4/4 against a polymeter which after some ammount of 4/4 bars corrects itself with a tail to fit and start over.
    I know that this is exactly what David points out in the video aswell, but I don’t think anyone playing this song will feel the subdivisions as any sort of main pulses, but merely as a shifting motif. The superb drummer @Yogev Gabay (who has played with Tigran in a brief colab at Berkley) has made a ton of videos of how Meshuggah (and Tigran) does this, see for example his video on the “Meshuggah Calculator” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96BpxIx8rDc

    1. Thank you, this is exactly what I wanted to add (Meshuggah, Yogev).

      4/4 is the “master” here, and every 16 bars, the odd 35 (5+5+5+5+3+3+3+3+3) pattern is cut short, forced to realign.

    2. It sounded like he was saying that 256 is the “common denominator” between the drums and piano. So 256 beats will need to go by before the drums and piano line up on beat 1 again

  7. Your videos do exactly what this song title says! And your piece at the end sounds so soothing!

  8. Tigran is one of my absolute favorites, and so is Meshuggah. It’s so cool to see these polymeter tropes influence and be achieved by other artists. This kinda stuff jams and grooves so hard!

    1. It’s interesting to point out the similarity to Meshuggah, since a lot of their stuff is also basically just 4/4 with a bunch of weird accents and timing thrown in.

    2. @timg2727 It’s not really a secret that Tigran listens to Meshuggah, you can find that online from interviews. This song specifically follows the general Meshuggah formula for polymeter riffs over 4/4, and it does it really well. On the surface, it seems quite silly for me to compare somebody like Tigran to a band like Meshuggah because of how different the vibes are, but this one really checks out when you do the math 🙂

  9. This kind of “4/4 groove played by hihat and snare, with a repeating, odd pattern under it, that is played by both the kick drum and the main melodic instrument, and that gets cut off around the end to re-sync after 16 bars” is straight out of Meshuggah’s textbook – If you’re interested in this kind of stuff, you should check their music out !

  10. Tigran is directly inspired by Meshugga. If you want to understand Tigran’s work then Meshugga will greatly help

  11. Esto me recuerda a Politik de Coldplay. Es una canción que siempre se transcribe o la enseñan con la métrica de 4/4; sin embargo, la sensación de ritmo que te da la canción es muy diferente, se siente más a una métrica de 16/8. Este 16/8 puede contener pequeñas métricas amalgamas como 3/8+4/8, y al combinarlo con el 4/4 de la batería, al final, da una sensación de escuchar un polímetro. Una gran canción; pero, lástima que nadie habla de ella

  12. Yes! This is the Tigran analysis I’ve needed my whole life. Top notch content, as usual

  13. I’m so glad he’s finally getting talked about more…. i’ve been listening to him for 6 years and I’m so glad it was you that covered him in depth!!

  14. Seeing Tigran, Arthur Hnatek, and Evan Marien (and Tosin) perform this album in it’s entirety, outdoors in a beautiful amphitheatre in summer 2022, is definitely one of the greatest concerts of my life 😁🙏

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