The matching pursuit algorithm can be used to derive signal decompositions in terms of the elements of a dictio- nary of time–frequency atoms. Using a structured overcomplete dictionary yields a signal model that is both parametric and signal adaptive. In this paper, we apply matching pursuit to the derivation of signal expansions based on damped sinusoids. It is shown that expansions in terms of complex damped sinusoids can be efficiently derived using simple recursive filter banks. We discuss a subspace extension of the pursuit algorithm that provides a framework for deriving real-valued expansions of real signals based on such complex atoms. Furthermore, we consider symmetric and asymmetric two-sided atoms constructed from underlying one-sided damped sinusoids. The primary concern is the application of this approach to the modeling of signals with transient behavior such as music; it is shown that time–frequency atoms based on damped sinusoids are more suitable for represent- ing transients than symmetric Gabor atoms. The resulting atomic models are useful for signal coding and analysis modification synthesis.