GCSE Key Stage 3 Composition

The time has come

In this Sound Advice for Soundtrap blog I want to explore the new time signatures that are now available in Soundtrap. It has for a while been just 4/4 and 3/4, but now we have the addition of a number of new metres. It is true to say that it is about time this happened! But the time has come and we can now start to explore these new metres with our students.


Knowledge is a key component in any lesson. If you are teaching students about rhythm and metre, then time signatures are crucial. Student understanding of time signatures will start with knowledge, but will develop with experience and exploration. Soundtrap is a great place to get them exploring what different time signatures sound like. There are a number of different ways of approaching this, and you will know what is best for your students. But initially it is now possible in Soundtrap to create some drum patterns using different time signatures. A 4/4 rock beat is great, but now they can consider what 5/4 & 7/4 might sound like.

Changing time in Soundtrap

Time signatures can be found under the small “cog” menu in the top right of the Soundtrap studio window. When you click on the cog you will get the option to change time and also a couple of other parameters.

Soundtrap Time Signature selection menu

When you change time to say 5/4 you will then see a change in the purple grid area at the bottom of the screen. Here I have selected 5/4 and therefore have 5 blocks of 4 semi-quavers that I can fill with beats.

If I choose 6/8 then the grid will change even more. Discussing the grid change with your students will help them understand the difference between simple and compound time.


The key to this task is listening. Not only will students be listening to their own beats, but they need to hear them in action. Selecting some great examples of 5/4, 7/4 and 6/8 will really help them to develop understanding. Here are some potential options for you:

Morning Bell by Radiohead – 5/4 time
Money by Pink Floyd – 7/4 time
Tom Sawyer by Rush – 7/4 – You need to go to the solo section which is about 90 seconds in.
Take Five by Dave Brubeck – 5/4 time

The time has come

It has been a while to wait, but we now have a range of different time signatures available in Soundtrap. Not only will these enhance student compositions, but they are a valuable teaching tool. When we are wanting to develop student knowledge of rhythm and metre, we can now use Soundtrap to create examples. Students can also play around with drum patterns to help them understand more about time signatures.

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