7/4 Time

Basic time signatures: 4/4, also known as comm...

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How about a little music this morning to provide the soundtrack to our daily business discussion?  I think most of you are familiar with the basic rock beat of thousands of songs.  You might be tapping your feet to that 4/4 beat as you read this.  Or maybe you prefer 3/4 time – a typical waltz.  If we add in 2/4 time – kind of a baby brother to 4/4 – and 6/8 time – maybe a big brother to a waltz – we’ve about covered most of the music on your iPod.

Then there are those who think differently and use 7/4 time.  You’ve heard it – “Money” by Pink Floyd and “Estimated Prophet” by The Grateful Dead are the two best known examples.  This is a time signature that feels familiar and yet it’s just a bit off.  Sound like something you can use?

It does to me.  Playing in 7/4 is not easy – it’s probably why the guitar solo in “Money” shifts back to straight 4/4.  But doing so pushes the envelope for both musicians and listeners.  Which is exactly what we ought to be doing as business people.

Doing business in an alternate time-signature, if you will, can differentiate you as long as the underlying rhythms seem familiar and comfortable to your customers.  For example, we see this in many Apple products – they push the envelope in terms of design and functionality but they seem familiar in a good way when first you try them.  You sort of see it in media when a standard form (the basic evening news program on any of the networks) is played to a different beat (The Daily Show).

What makes us better in business is learning to be comfortable at any tempo, in any key, and in any time signature.  What makes us great is playing in innovative ways, pushing the limits in each of those areas without losing our listeners.

What are you playing today?

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1 Comment

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One response to “7/4 Time

  1. 😀 I’m no businessman but I can appreciate a good solid metaphor. When 7/4 time is done well it leaves one part of the audience unaware anything is even unusual and the other part craving more. And people are drawn in who would’ve never given a listen, because there’s a certain percentage of people willing to try anything in an unusual time signature.

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