Music Performance & Appreciation

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All about rhythm - part 3

What is Rhythm?

By now, you might have realised that rhythm is simply the backbone of whatever music that you want to make. You can create rhythm even by simply clapping your hands together, but before you can make any rhythm sound proper, you need to have pulse. What is pulse, you might ask?

This pulse has a tempo or speed to which listeners can feel and tap their foot or dance along with the piece of music, and is usually called its common name the ‘beat’. In music and music theory, the pulse consists of beats in a repeating series.

How can we describe a beat? A beat can be described in a way a coin gets its value. Like a 10 cent coin has a value of 10 smaller one-cent values in one coin instead of in 50 coins. So in that way, each one-cent value would represent a 'beat'.

In music, one of the first things that are usually taught to students are note values. Traditionally, students are required to recognize these values and recreate the rhythm from memorizing patterns. These are good disciplines but sometimes do take away the 'feel' of the rhythm and will make music sound very mechanical. You will want to make music that feels 'alive' and not robotic.

Let's have a look at these note values and understand how they work. We will start with the simple ones first.

The first of these values would be the long note which is called the semibreve. This is long because it holds a value of 4 beats. Think of a semibreve as a 4 cent coin which has a value of 4 one-cent values in one coin. A semibreve would look like this.

Next would be the minim note which has a value of 2 beats which is halve of a semibreve. A minim looks like a semibreve but with a line down the side of it.

And the next would be the crotchet note which has a value of 1 beat, again which is half of a minim. A crotchet looks like this.

A simple way I would use to help me remember the values of the three notes above is that the first note has a value of 4 beats, if it has a line beside it, then that would make it half which is 2 beats, and then if it has the color black in the middle, that would half it again making it 1. Try to remember this and in the next post we will be able to see how all this is going to work.

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