I answered this question, and the question was subsequently closed. I try to flag posts when I see that they are off topic, but I missed this one. The closure caused me to read through this thread, which has been really helpful to me. My understanding now is that this question was closed for potentially two reasons:

  1. it fails to include a "concrete reference (sheet music, etc.)," and
  2. it might be asking for mere identification.

Is there any way to ask this question so that it is on topic? In particular, would this work:

What is the technique that the drums and distorted guitar are using from 0:30 to 1:00 of this song? The meter is 4/4, and this meter is established by the intro guitar riff from 0:00 to 0:30. But at 0:30, the drums and second guitarist begin playing a figure that doesn't seem like it's in 4/4 time. The figure also doesn't seem to ever sync back up with the 4/4 time. How would music theory describe the rhythmic nature of this figure occurring from 0:30 to 1:00?

In edited form, this contains a clearer reference to a specific portion of a specific song, and it identifies a particular analytical aspect that the question is about. Additionally, I wouldn't call it a basic analysis question because it's about polymeter-like figure (there are 3-3-5 groupings of eighth notes) which nonetheless deviates from a pure polymeter.

Is this edited form on topic--does it meet the criteria for an analysis question about a specific song? Given the complexity of the passage, I don't think it's the case that "a cursory read of any associated sheet music can give the answer" (a criterion that user16935 described in this post).

1 Answer 1


I came across this an another similar question they both came up in a similar manner between asking to identify a time signature (which falls under basic analysis) and asking for a transcription and closed them both as such.

In general "basic analysis" is viewed as if you have a transcription of the piece you are given that information (key signature, time signature, chords, ect.). The reason why this is off-topic is that there's a lot of material out there and answering these question instead of instructing users on how to figure it out or examining the overall patters creates more noise then real solutions.

The way the question was worded along with the the title felt like if the OP had transcribed the song or had the sheet music, most of the question would have been answered (Is it in 4/4? How can I count it? How does it line up with the melody?). The answer you gave is really impressive and is a great value to the site, but wasn't really the original question.

We don't have a lot of rhythmic analysis questions here so talking about how they should be worded is important. If the OP agrees to your edit and wants to focus on the technique in the piece rather than just the piece itself it would be much closer to analysis than it was before. The title would also have to change to better reflect the kind of technique used so it can be more useful to users in the future as "How is This in 4/4" doesn't tell us anything about the meat of the question. If not, we can always ask a new question that fully reflects this analysis.

  • Thank you; this explanation helps me a lot! One follow-up clarification--if a song is highly complex, am I correct it would still be off topic to request info normally found in a transcription? For example, if a piece is written in 19/8 time, is it still inappropriate to ask for a time signature?
    – jdjazz
    Jul 5, 2017 at 4:12
  • 2
    @jdjazz yes because if someone gave you the sheet music you would just have the answer without much in-depth examination. But someone could ask a general method for tackling transcribing complex time signatures with an example in 19/8. The big difference is the second can be applied more broadly and be a better help to others who are trying to transcribe songs with similar time signatues.
    – Dom Mod
    Jul 5, 2017 at 4:22

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