Irregular Meter

The most common types of meter are simple with beats subdivided into 2, and compound with beats subdivided into 3.  For more, see.

When compound- and simple-subdivided beats are combined together, the result is irregular meter.   

The two studies, Septude and Topsy-turvy are written in irregular 7/8 meter.   While the time signature literally means the count of 7 eighth notes in each measure, it’s more simply counted as 1 compound and 2 simple beats, a grouping of 3+2+2 eighth notes.


The easier of the two studies, Septude, is based mostly on the p,i,m (sympathetic movement) arpeggio.   For detailed information on sympathetic movement see the Daybreak blog.  Begin, by learning the right-hand pattern while counting aloud:

irregular meter

Notice the bass note duration of one full measure is a double-dotted half note.  

The first dot adds half the value of the first note; the second dot adds half the value of the second note.

This rhythmic pattern is the same throughout with only a few exceptions such as mm. 12, and 14 with an eighth note on the “&” of 3:

Septude is written predominantly in the open position with a few momentary shifts into position II, as at m. 59.

Here the left-hand shift is created by a 2nd finger glissando from E to F# on (4); as 2 moves back to E, a glissando sounds with 1, from D sliding to C on (2) (for information on glissando, see Shearer Method Book II,  Classic Guitar Developments).


Topsy-turvy is an intermediate etude that features passages in second position, slurs, glissando, harmonics, and soundboard taps.  The 7/8 rhythmic pattern is mostly the same as Septude (3+2+2), but includes occassional mixed meter (e.g. m. 23).  (for information on mixed meter, see Shearer Method Book II, Classic Guitar Developments).


  1. Brian Morris

    Septude and Topsy-Turvy are lovely studies and beautifully performed on the recording. Thank you for sharing them!

  2. alntom

    Thanks so much Brian. So glad to hear that you enjoy them!

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