Different time signatures for different Instruments

• Jun 26, 2017 - 22:45

A cast member friend in a production I am in brought in a piano score for Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells that he had just purchased.
The score was published in 1980 and included an analysis by David Bedford (as a way of identifying it if anyone is familiar with it.)

One part that had us stumped was the bass line in the score was in a different time signature that the treble.
Our musical director was also perplexed as he had never seen anything like it.
Has anyone else seen or heard of such a practice?

Attached is a copy of part of the score showing the times.
This is the beginning of the bass part of the score at bar 17, and continues for the next 16 bars.

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Tubular Bells piano.jpg 165.92 KB


Different times are rare but not unheard of.


That's a very strange transcripttion.
I think someone was struggling with the odd and shifting meter, and they thought they were doing the performer a favor by 'simplifying' it.
The reality of It makes my brain hurt. If one were to strictly play 3/4 4/4 and 5/4 over 7/8 and 9/8 the result would be semi-chaotic.

There are no triplets anywhere in the bass part; in this context they would all be straight eighth notes. I do not know what the transcriber was going for there.

The intro to part one is simply 7+8 / 8. That's it - no shifting needed.

I would love multi-meter to be possible between different instruments, particularly non-aligned. One example would be "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part Two" from King Crimson: guitar in 11/8 and 10/8 over the rest of the band in 4/4, with the bar lines rarely aligning.
Before anyone suggests I 'could' do this in MuseScore, please realize measure repeats and multi-measure repeats are vital to the way I wish to score for band, and they do not work right yet.

Thank you to everyone who responded, I borrowed the book and copied a few pages to play around with.
To help to understand the piece, I have attached as a PDF, the first 4 page of Tubular Bells that include the "offending" section.
There is no mention of the arranger anywhere in the book, that I could find anyway.
It was published in 1980, David Bedford as mentioned, orchestrated Tubular Bells for Classical Orchestra.
As you can see in the PDF, the structure is a repeating 7/8, 7/8, 7/8, 9/8. to allow the phrase to recycle to 4 complete bars.

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Pages from Tubular Bells (piano).pdf 965.49 KB

Seems to me the only mistake the arranger (or typesetter) made was to align the barlines. The number of quavers is the same on both staffs. The measures below change between one quaver "too little" and one quaver "too much". So the likely intention is that everybody plays the eighths matching and just applies different phrasing and accenting following the individual time signatures. But the barlines should align only where the rhythm matches (every second measure).

In reply to by azumbrunn

That is very likely the case, as there is an absence of a metrical relationship instruction at the outset of the polymetre/score.
On other cases, however, the bars can still coincide even without sufficient quavers which would satisfy all other parts.
To play those parts would be the same as tuplet divisions (9:8 to 7:8, 9:7 quavers).

See Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 6, 1st movement, eighth figure.

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