Reading Standard Notation 2 - Rhythm

Here you can take a look at my easy approach on how-to-read simple rhythm. Very begginer level!

Ultimate Guitar

Thats been a long time since we metK Sorry, but my private life took the lead. Lets get down to business. They say that basic building blocks of music are melody and rhythm. Trust me, you dont want to any of this folks leave your song when you perform. Convincing the guy named rhythm to stay on the beat is the thing what todays lesson talks about. Theres no Metallica without Hetfield, theres no Muse without Bellamy, theres no Motorhead without Lemmy and no Music without rhythm. (Thats the weakest parallel thing Ive ever written, ouch! But Ill leave it here for you to have a laugh). The whole concept behind rhythm is very simple. We read standard notation from left to right, just like normal text. And, just like in normal text some words are longer, some are shorter. This is when rhythm comes in. Sounds obvious? Probably, because it is obvious. Look at some principals of rhythm reading. All the graphic that I refer to in the text can be found at the bottom of the lesson. Have fun! TIME SIGNATURES First thing you should know is the time signature. Its a very important factor of rhythm reading. The most common time signatures are : 3/4 and 4/4 . But what they mean? The upper number tells us how many of beats will be in one measure. The lower number tells us which note gets one beat. Four means that quarter note gets one beat. So, 4/4 is a measure where in one bar are four beats and one beat is a quarter note. Dont worry about the notes (what is that friggin quarter?), well go through it soon. 3/4 Measure is a measure where in one bar are three and one beat is a quarter note. Easy as it is, right? Now, some practice. Tap your left foot, stomping with your fingers, or your heel. Its important to tap that loud so you can hear it. (Say hello to your neighbors downstairs). Tap constantly, keeping steady rhythm. Assume that one tap is a quarter note, it has got to be an axiom now, just keep it in mind. Now, start counting your taps, but go only from one to four. So, count them like 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 and so onK Youre tapping in 4/4 time signature! Nice! Now, stop tapping, give your neighbor a rest and start again, but now count from 1 to 3. 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3K Its a 3/4 time signature. And, every measure starts at one and lasts till the next one appears. Same goes for the 4/4 example. Hope that now you got the basics of the part labeled time signatures. NOTES LENGHT Its time to explain what was the mysterious quarter note. And any other note. Read carefully and slowly. Quarter note, quarter noteK Why its a quarter ? Is it a fraction or what? Yes, you can think about it as a fraction, because if you take length of four quarter notes you get a whole note. Two quarter notes make a half note, and so on. Its pure math, but on a primary school level, dont worry :). But, Ive started from behind. Now, lets go back to the beginning. We are using a 4/4 time signature now. Every bar has got FOUR beats and one beat is a QUARTER NOTE. First note about what I will tell is a whole note. Whole note in 4/4 time it gets FOUR beats, and so on four quarter notes. Its a whole piece of cake, and fulfills a baking mold (I mean measure) fully. That means if you play a whole note, you HOLD it for four beats, so that makes a whole measure. Count 1-2-3-4 and clap your hands at one, hold them together until next one appears, this is when you clap again. Thats a whole note. Next one is a half note. Simply, its length is a half length of a whole note, so cont it out, but remember that it lasts for two beats. 1(clap)-2-3(clap)-4-1(clap)-2-3(clap)-4. Got it ?:) Lets divide by two again and well have a quarter note. You already know how to count it out. Clap for every beat. 1(clap)-2(clap)-3(clap)-4(clap). Next division gives us a eight note - this note is 2x shorter than a quarter, so for one beat there will be two claps. Divide again, and youll have a sixteenth - four claps for one beat. But now, dont try to clap or tap or play them, stick to the easier ones:). If youll catch the point, you can practice with your guitar. To make sure about what you practice V in this case its a rhythm practice, dont make it hard for your left hand. So, for example, take a random chord, and play it instead of clapping. Hold it (let it ring) for the length of a note to make your ears and your brain cooperate. RESTS Dont forget that for every note there is a corresponding pause - a rest. They mean simply to stay silent, and their lengths are relative to the lengths of the notes. Just look at the picture, theres no more about to say. Watch out for the whole and a half note rest V they are very similar, but if you look closely, you can see that they stick to various lines. But, all in all V when you see a rest V just remain silent. Some say, thats the easiest thing to play. And I think its just a weak joke. CHANGING THE NOTES LENGTH, AGAIN TRIPLETS Triplet is a very popular rhythm figure. We were dividing the beat in two,four,eight,and so forth, and now well divide in three. Eight note triplets divide every beat for three. Thats a good triplet rhythm to start with. Counting for it goes like counting for 3/ 4 time signature, but count every 1-2-3 in one measure, and youll get eight note triplets ;P. TIED NOTES Notes can be tied to each other, just to make them more precisely long as we wish to. Its very simple - the note you play has got the length of all the notes tied. So, a Q* tied to a Q is a H note :) You can tie every note to a note as you wish. Or tie four notes. Or one hundred four. *Q=Quarter note H=Half note DOTTED NOTES When you see a dot next to a note, that means that you should hold the note for its 150% of original value. So, H note with a dot is H+Q long. Easy tiger! TIE, OR DOT? When you want to make a note of 3Q notes long you can : -Tie 3 Q notes together (the easiest, pffff) -Dot a H note (the most obvious) -Tie a H note to a Q note (again, really simple) -Do 35031590350935903150350K3535 other examples of it! There are really many ways to write the same sound! Maybe the number of other examples is a little overwhelmedK But just notice, the relativity. One sound can be written in many ways. What makes me laugh is that we write sounds on paper, huh, whatever ;P. IMPORTANT ADVICE Ok, but theres a important thing for you to remember when you start to perform a rhythm. Do not count beats of every note, count beats of the measures. So, when you see a rhythm like it* : Q, H, Q dont cound one-one-two-one! Keep counting the beats of the measure, and play the rhythm. Keep the length of the notes in your subconscious, reading rhythm is just making a habit. You see a set of notes, and you remember how they sound, so you can play them. Practice makes perfect. *Q=quarter note H=half note BPM Now you know how the notes look, and what they mean. They are just a simple representation of time, and more simply - how long you have to hold a note after playing it. Speed of playing notes is expressed by BPM (Beats Per Minute). Its called tempo, and its simple - if the piece of music is in 60 BPM that means that one beat lasts for one second, if its in 120 BPM one beat gets half of a second, and so forth. Hope that this brightened your mind in rhythm reading. Rate and comment, folks! Theres something that I should also notice : the metronome. METRONOME Youll become tired sometime, and/or the rhythm you are going to play will be more complex, that youll just want to focus on playing it, and dont minding the tapping of your foot. This is when the metronome comes in. Its a little pretty nice thing that taps the beats for you. I strongly suggest for you to use it. Your feet can change tempo or sometimes itll be hard to keep a beat, and a machine is never wrong. (especially when you play chess with itK) So buy one and use it, or use one that youll find online. Instruction of usage will be surely included with it, so I will not be explaining it for you now. Just remember it. GRAPHICS HERE :) SOME WORDS TO SAY GOODBYE So thats all for tonight! Dont ever play off the beat and remember to practice with a metronome! Remember, my advices are just some basic theory, so I strongly recommend you to find some good books about reading rhythm and practice, practice, practice. Learn. Practice. Play. Have fun. Stay on the beat. See you soon at the next lesson, and thanks for the attention! Daniel Kaczmarczyk PS Sorry for the quality of the graphicsK But I wanted to make it quick!

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Looks like that when I converted the text there were some weird things in it, so when you see a "" you have to use it as a " ' " Sorry!