When you play/learn a song, I get confused with the length of notes. Say if it says hold it for 2 beats it would be double 1 beat etc but how would you know how long a single beat is? Do you like tpa pyour foot a long, or what?

Someone clarify this, I'm confused...
The length of a crotchet (single note) is dependent on the tempo of the piece. Thats basicaaly how the fast the piece is played, there is no set length for a crotchet. and ll other lengths of notes depend on the length of the crotchet. To get the timing you tap your foot, and say if the piece is in 4/4 then one tap of the foot will relate directly to one crotchet. It gets more complicated with different time signatures
Quote by boreamor
Ah very good point. Charlie__flynn, you've out smarted me


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tapping your foot helps when your first learning a song or a good ol' metronome
once you get the rhythm down it kinda just comes naturally, at least for me it does

edit: tempo determines the length of the beat, i usually listen to the song to determine tempo
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Last edited by justinb904 at Feb 8, 2009,
Timing is this simple: You have twos and threes. All time signatures derive from this.

4/4 is a multiple of 2's.

There is the beat itself, where you count by saying a number allowed "One, Two, Three, Four, One..."

And there is the off-beat, which is an "and"

A string of eighth notes will be counted "One and Two and Three and Four"

This translates into guitar through your picking. Down picked notes are the beats themselves, up picks are the "ands"

A Measure is divided up into eight pieces of equal length: four beats and four "ands"

If you're nodding your head, it nods forward on the beats and backwards on the ands.

If you're tapping your foot it strikes the ground on the beat and assumes the full upward position on the ands.

Hand, foot, head, whatever the body part involved there is a cycle of motion with a defined strike and a recoil.

Don't get lost in the off beats. If you just count the beats, or tap your foot "One Two Three Four", there is a natural off beat as you prepare to make the next beat.

Swinging a hammer is the same: down, up, down, up, down, up, and your beats are the number of times you hit the nail.

Threes can be confusing, but don't have to be. All three time is is breaking the beat cycle into three parts instead of two. We count three time like this: "Tri-pull-it, Tri-pull-it" for Triplets or "One Two Three One Two Three" if your time signature is a 3/4 or 3/8.

Triplets are three-counts within a two-time (2/4 or 4/4) measure.

"One and Two and Tri-pull-it Four and"

The three beat has been replaced by the "Tri-pull-it"

Despite these complexities you can still nod your head along to the beats, or tap your foot.

A great example of simple time over a complex beat is the ending section of Metallica's "One"

The guitar play a fast rhythm that may sound like extremely fast time, but it's really not. The measure is just broken up into small pieces.

James' vocals reveal the true tempo: "Darkness, Imprisoning me, All that I see, Absolute horror"

Although he does not hit every beat, that is the pace, or the tempo of the piece.

Every piece has a tempo or pace that is usually much simpler than it sounds. Even jazz can be broken down into twos and threes, and in fact this is basically how drummers and bass players count it out. The complex rhythms of jazz are known as syncopation, but the tempo is not affected. Syncopation is emphasizing different parts of the measure.

"One and two And three And Four"

Sounds and looks complicated, but regardless of this you have not changed anything. A metronome can be set to the tempo and click away perfectly.

You have to practice and train your ear to pick it up. It's not hard but it takes practice.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

I can see that it could be kind of confusing, because there are basically two aspects of a notes duration. One is relative to the beat. So if someone says a quarter note, this is a quarter of the length of a bar in 4/4 time (4 beats per bar), or the same as one beat or foot tap. Or an eighth note = 1/8th of a bar in 4/4 = 1/2 a beat. So none of this tells you really how long in seconds the notes are, just their length relative to the beat.
How fast the beat itself is is the tempo of the song, and with the combo of that and the relative durations of the notes, you know how long the notes are in actual time.

In practice, you rarely think about it like that. You just have the beat at a certain speed, and then play relative to that.

Hope that made sense.