The Foundations of Music and How to Practice Them Rhythm

Posted By on Dec 20, 2016 | 3 comments

Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting articles which outline the most important foundations of music and how to practice them.

For those of you who are experienced musicians, please do have a look because I am attempting to explain things as simply as possible, and who knows?  You may be able to see some theory from a different angle which is always useful.

For those of you who are new to music, I hope these articles clarify some of your questions.

So let’s start with Rhythm….

  • Rhythmic patterns are created by dividing the space between a beat or a pulse.
  • A pulse is a repetitive, single sound that can vary in speed.
  • When you create rhythm, you create patterns that fit the pulse.

You will understand this better as you read on and try some of the exercises.

Make sure you practice these exercises with a metronome.

Your skill with rhythm will depend upon you cultivating an ability to subdivide the beat.

A semibreve or whole note is worth 4 beats on your metronome.

A minim or half note is worth 2 beats on your metronome.

A crotchet or quarter note is worth 1 beat on your metronome.

A quaver or eighth note is worth ½ a beat. (count “1 and 2 and” etc)

When music is written down, it is broken into bars or sections that look like this:

Time signatures appear at the beginning of a piece of music and tell us how to count the pulse in each bar.  Here’s how time signatures work:-

The top number:         4      tells us HOW MANY beats are in each bar

The bottom number:   4      tells us what TYPE of beats we are counting.

(in this case it’s crotchets because the ‘4’

represents the number 4 in a quarter ¼).

Don’t worry if this is a little confusing for you now, just know that with this time signature each bar would have to add up to four beats of your metronome.

Another time signature example is    3 / 4      which would mean three crotchet beats in each bar

Try this one for yourself:   6 / 8     (Answer down bottom of post)

Your teacher can explain in more detail how we use time signatures and you will become familiar with them as you advance in your studies. Live Band for hire Melbourne can also teach you the same.

Once you understand note values, you can practise reading rhythms.  This is a great exercise for all instrumentalists and singers.

Clap the following rhythms with your metronome keeping a slow pulse of about 40 – 50 bpm (beats per minute).  Remember to always count what you are clapping out loud using numbers or French time names (which I recommend).   You need to say the note values out loud as it helps with co-ordination.

For example:

You can challenge yourself by speeding up the metronome once you have accomplished all rhythms at a slow speed.

You may also want to try to clap rhythms with others (friends or parents), either the same exercise in unison or grouping several of them together and clapping at the same time.

This exercise will help you to read music and develop your sense of time.

6 / 8    means there would be 6 quaver beats in every bar because, the “8″ down the bottom stands for 1/8th notes which are also called quavers.  Refer to first diagram.

Although this book is for the “modern drummer”, it’s exercises can be adapted for all instruments.

Don’t let it’s dated cover put you off, if anything, it just shows that after all these years this book is still in print because its GOOD.


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