Odd time signatures

Hello Hooktheory team,

Is there any plan on updating the time signature options to make it more robust? There are many songs that are in odd time signatures. Also the ability to be able to change time signatures at any time is also needed :smile:

Musically yours,
Stephen J. Souza

Bumping this.

I absolutely adore the FF6 soundtrack by Nobuo Uametsu and I see a lot of tabs have been tossed up here which are great, but one of my favorite tracks off the entire OST is this one which uses a 7/4 time signature. While 2/4, 6/4, and 6/8 are able to be gotten around with what is currently available, some time signatures like this one are just impossible.

Here is the song I’d love to have up here on your site, but currently no real means to do so:

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Just a thought from another musician:
Using odd time signatures matters little when thinking in terms of blocks of 1/4’s so if you have something like a 5/8, you can half the bottom for 5/4 then double the tempo, so for instance a song written in 5/8 at eighth= 120 would be a somewhat equivalent song written in 5/4 where the quarter beat is paced at 240.
As far as composing it, you really just have to pretend the black bars aren’t even there. It’s certainly much more challenging, but it IS still doable with a pen and paper and some basic arithmetic.

Interestingly enough, it seems to also pick up on the pattern and start automatically using bars of 5s instead of bars of 4.
It’s not very intuitive, but all the math of odd signatures can be emulated in the context of a 4/4 situation, and all patterns can inevitably repeat after so many bars to where it’s an even count of four-bars.

The .hkt file used when saving to disk can be edited in a text editor. Near the top there’s an entry labeled beats_per_measure, and sure enough, changing it to “5” allows Hookpad to handle 5/4 time just fine. The durations available default to 4/4, the time signature field goes blank, and it randomly stops if you try to loop it, but other than that I can’t find any issues. Here is a sample. (Looping works fine in the viewer, it only glitches in the editor.) Here is the .hkt.

(hooktheory please don’t kill my account I’m only trying to experiment)

@vikomprenas we would never punish an experimenter :slight_smile: Just don’t upload any analyses with “additional functionality” to the Theorytab database. We’d like to keep the database clean and bug free (and minimize support requests asking about unsupported features).


Decimal points in beats_per_measure work too! Sample in 7/8 (3.5/4). Hookpad seems confused on how long the measures are - in the chord row they’re right and in the melody row they’re double-length.

meanwhile in mad science, someone tries 4.1

Does this mean the hkt format is effectively public?

Depends what you mean by “public”.

I say this because, when .hkt files were first introduced, they were always encrypted into a form not suitable for external editing (especially for a closed-source software project), rather than saved as plain XML data. I was still able to decrypt them nonetheless.

Here in Greece we have a lot odd meters! 9/8, 7/8, 5/4, 5/8 compound rhythms etc. Ok, we could update hkt files through notepad.

But how someone could update duration and shortcuts? I mean say I want (:wink: sign is 9/4 whole note. This could be easy if we have access to shortcuts! What the heck is + sign in the bottom (shift, manual says it combines duration but it is difficult to understood…).

An other feature would be tapping to beatmap! There are a lot songs in freely tempos, not fixed… so for your algorithm is very easy to divide say 120 bpm / 10 meters to have 12 beats per meter (for fixed 120 tempo). For now I upload fixed videos to map them easy through hooktheory. But would beatmap be a feature tool?

Lastly, how to remap compound rythms? One idea would be:
say we have 7/4 |% |5/4 |3/4|
transcribe it to 4/4, export midi file and add signatures in external software…

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You press a duration, then press and hold shift, then press another duration, and you now have the two durations added together


@HertzDevil is right that we used to encrypt hkt’s to prevent the sort of support issues one can imagine would turn up from allowing people to edit files to uncover hidden/unsupported functionality (i.e. theorytab db polluted with unsupported hacks breaking things).

We stopped encrypting them to make it easier to debug issues in people’s projects. There were cases of corruption that made the file difficult to decrypt and recover the song data. I just talked with Ryan who wrote this portion of the code and he mentioned that there should have been a check to make the system not accept modified hkt files - though it appears this is currently broken. It hasn’t been a problem yet, so we’ll see if we just leave it to let you guys experiment or not. :slight_smile:

Hopefully, if in the end, we decide to re-enable that check, there won’t be too much of an uproar. The balance is to make sure we don’t get bogged down putting out fires that prevent our making progress on more important matters (like a non-flash version of Hookpad that supports odd time signatures natively).


@cy6nu5 yeah I’ve written a couple in 5/4 using the standard 4/4 measure block, but 7/4 is just not feasible.

Here’s an example…

@dave semi offtopic but any estimates on when a non flash based implementation will be publicly viewable? that is very exciting news and congrats on undertaking that task! :slight_smile:

not yet sorry. We’re finally working full blast on it though (before our attentions were mostly diverted to second book and a bunch of other non-hookpad things) and we’re really excited about it. The first thing you’ll likely see will be a viewer (so Theorytabs can be viewed - but not created on mobile).



Hey guys,

Any updates on this? I’m happy to see there is 5/4, 9/8 and 12/8 to select now. Are we closer to getting any prime numbers in, like 7/4 or 11/8?

Many thanks in advance! This website is life-changing. I love it.