“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is one of Metallica’s most popular and enduring songs. It begins with Cliff Burton’s distorted bass guitar cranking out a haunting melody line. The guitars and drums knock out a triplet based figure together (five times) before the drums settle into a solid 2-beat groove. At 1:15 into the song, the meter changes from simple to compound meter; which means that the natural division of the beat changes from two eighth notes per beat to three eighth notes per beat. The metric modulation above the time signature change (12/8) states that the quarter note pulse becomes the new dotted-quarter note pulse in 12/8. We normally use metric modulation like a gear change that affects the tempo, however in this case the tempo remains consistent, it is only the subdivision of the beat that changes. Transition from 4/4 to 12/8 (1:15):
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