Day 1 - Rhythm

Rhythm: An introduction

Counting: Quarter notes & eighth notes

Counting: Writing in the counting on the score

 

Rhythm: An Introduction

There are two main components to any piece of music. One is the rhythm; the timing of the sounds and the patterns those sounds make in time. The other is the pitch; how high or low the sounds are in the music.

 
Figure 1: A quarter note

Figure 1: A quarter note

CounTIng: Quarter Notes & Rests

We will begin learning to read music by starting with just the rhythm. The first rhythmic value we will learn is the quarter note.

The quarter note equals 1 beat. When we count quarter notes each quarter note gets 1 beat.

Take a look at the rhythm from the beginning of the song Twinkle, twinkle little star.

Also in music there are times when we need silence, or a space of time between the sounds. This silence is called a rest. There are many kinds of rests but the first we will discuss is the quarter rest. Just like the quarter note the quarter rest gets 1 beat of time.

In the first example from Twinkle, twinkle little star, the musical phrase ended with a quarter rest.

Let’s look at the remaining phrases, or groupings of music, of the rhythm from Twinkle, twinkle little star.

 

Musical Example: Twinkle, twinkle little star (Traditional)

Example: Twinkle, twinkle little star (Traditional)

Example: Twinkle, twinkle little star (Traditional)

 

Counting: Writing in the counting on the score

In this musical score, or sheet music, you will see all the counting of each note and rest written below the notes and the counting of the rhythmic beats in the measures above the music.

When we count music we normally count along with the meter, or the time signature, instead of each note and rest individually.

In the Twinkle example the time signatures is 2/4. That means that in each measure, the amount of space between each barline is equal to 2 beats.

Example: Twinkle, twinkle little star (Traditional)

Example: Twinkle, twinkle little star (Traditional)

Now that you have seen Twinkle, twinkle little star’s rhythm. Take a look at the following exercise.

 

Counting: Exercise #1

Look at this example and write in the individual counts of the quarter notes and rests below each note. Notice that the counting for the meter is already written in for you. Clap the example as you count the beats of the meter out loud. Remember quarter notes and quarter rests get one beat each.

Counting: Exercise #1

Counting: Exercise #1

 

Further Practice

Here are a few things you can do to further practice the skills from Day 1

  • Write out a series of quarter notes and rests to create new rhythms and clap them. Try to find more songs that only use quarter notes.
    Hint: Think of children’s songs, folk songs or traditional religious music.

  • Generate your own practice material with a tool called PracticeSigthReading.com from this post on my blog.