The Eleven and Other Rhythmic Oddities

The Eleven is called that simply because it is in the time signature of 11/8. There are eleven beats to the bar with the eighth note as the beat. It is subdivided as three groups of three(triplets) and one group of two. It can be counted like this: 123 123 123 12, with each of the numbers representing an eighth note. The last two eighths are usually emphasized, often with two drum whacks or sometimes by Phil. The transition between St. Stephen and The Eleven is basically in 12/8 with the 12th eighth note being dropped at some point to create the basic structure for The Eleven. 12/8 is essentially the same as the common 4/4 except that triplets predominate. Another example of a Grateful Dead song in 12/8 is Truckin'.

The Seven is essentially a variation of The Eleven. It is in 7/8 and the main grouping is 123 12 12, although it switches around a good bit. There are only four known performances of The Seven(according to Deadbase VII) and two of those were Mickey and the Hartbeats shows.

Estimated Prophet is in a slow 7/8. On some tapes, especially on early versions, you can hear Bobby count to seven to start the song.

Playing in the Band could basically be in 10/4 hence its original name The Main Ten. However, for more practical notation purposes it would likely be written in 5/4. In time signatures where the quarter note gets the beat it is generally common practice to not go over 5 beats a measure. 7 is used occasionally, while 6 is better written as two 3/4 measures.

Other songs, such as the Other One, that might sound like they are in odd meters are actually not. Their rhythmic complexity is derived from accents on off beats. Unusual accents also add further to the complexity of Playin'. [Thanks to Michael Bell for the above info about The Eleven]

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