How to work out this time signature?

A few months ago before starting the course I tried learning this 90’s alt-rock/dream-pop song. Though it’s fairly slow and not super complicated I kinda got confused by it and didn’t get very far. When I googled the BPM to set a metronome I found the internet bots seem to think it’s 157bpm, which clearly it’s not!

Now I’m on Module 10 and learning more about time signatures I’m trying to figure this one out and guessing a slow 6/8? Or is it a 12/8?
But then I found a tutorial video for playing this on guitar which calls it 3/4 which I think just feels wrong.

It’s def not 4/4 anyway!

Fade Into You - Mazzy Star

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Not precisely sure what its time signature is but I love that song, listen to it pretty regularly in fact :slight_smile:

It is also absolutely not 157 BPM. Often internet sources seem to report double BPM for some reason; which would be 78 or so for that, which seems more reasonable.

If I were to guess I would say about 75BPM 4/4.

edit: all the sheet music I see for it think 6/8 or 3/4, with tempo varying widely. Weird.


My understanding of whether something is 3/4 or 6/8 has more to do with how the music is written out rather than any technical difference in how the song is played.

Whether I count a song in 3/4 or in 6/8 has to do with how the song moves and feels. Trying to count this as 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, feels wrong. Counting it as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, with the 1 on the snare hit feels spot on.


I would say this is in 12/8, where the eights notes are pretty much following a 150-160bpm. However, since bpms are typically given for quarter notes, this would make it around 75-80 bpm.

But, yes, it is not in 4/4, but you get a 4/4 feel because there is four main beats per 12/8 bar noticeable as the drummer plays bass-snare-bass-snare (with small variations and ornamentation), which is a classic 4/4 pattern. However, while doing that he plays 12 eights not on the hi-hat or cymbals (instead of just 8), so all in all something like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
B - - S - - B - - S - -
(this might not work graphically: B should be on 1 and 7, and S on 4 and 10).

Yes, but you’d want the bass drum on ONE, which is another reason to call it in 12/8 :slight_smile:


That explains why I thought it was 4/4, I was listening to the kick/snare only

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You could say it is in 4/4 and what the drummer plays on the cymbals are eights note triplets - that is pretty much equivalent to saying it is in 12/8 with straight eights…

I think the guitar is also strumming in eights notes here, and the bass uses the eight notes as main pulse as well… so, 12/8 it is :grin:


Awesome, thanks for the feedback!

I would never have thought I’d find transcribing or music theory fun, but I am, I’ve been watching Adam Neely’s youtube channel and I feel like I’m drawing with crayons by comparison!

Ok, I think as a personal challenge I’m going to try and transcribe this song and hopefully it will help me make sense of the 12/8 vs 6/8 thing.