Rhythm is everywhere. You can find rhythm in the way the heart beats, in a conversation, in the sound of your shoes as you walk, etc. It is an inherent aspect of human beings, even if we are not aware of it. The idea of this article is to help you be more aware of rhythm. Also, to help you understand what rhythm is and the role it plays in music.
In a nutshell, a rhythm is a group of sounds of different durations. In music, these sounds are repeated, generating patterns.
By the way, the pitch is not necessary to have rhythm, only sounds with different durations.
But what happens if we add pitch to a rhythm? Well, we get a melody.
See the example below.
Rhythm + pitch:
🤩 It's magical. Isn't it?
Anyhow, going back to the subject, there would be no music without rhythm. Think of rhythm as the skeleton of music.
For example, if we change the rhythm of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, it is really hard to understand what song it is.
As you can see, it is possible to write rhythm.
In music, we have symbols that represent the duration of a sound. Is what we call rhythmic figures. Nowadays, we have seven rhythmic figures with the corresponding rest symbol. The longest note we use is the whole, which represents the entity. In other words, the whole = 1. If we divide this entity into two, we get the half note. And so so on until you reach the thirty-second note.
I summarize everything in the table below.
There is a proportional relationship between the different rhythmic notes. For example, if the quarter note is a quarter of a whole, a whole equals four quarter notes.
😉 You get it, am I right?
The most important thing here is that you remember the proportional relationship between the different rhythmic notes.
How do we measure rhythm in music?
The beat is the musical measure of time. And it is measured in the same way as the heartbeat is measured: beats per minute (BPM).
💓 Think of the beat as the heartbeat of the song.
It is easy to find the beat of a song, more than you could imagine.
Just give it a try. Listen to a song and clap along to the pulse. You will intuitively find the beat of it.
In this video, that's just what the audience is doing: clapping the beat.
Now, the speed of the pulse is what we call tempo. You can write the tempo of a song using a rhythmic note and giving it a value, e.g. ♩=60, which means 60 BPM. Also, you can do it by using the Italian terms in the list below:
As I mentioned earlier, when we make music, we make patterns with the beats. These patterns are created by accentuating a beat in a sequence of beats. By that I mean that it has an accent; it sounds a little louder than the other beats.
Before we dig deeper into the concept of measure, look at the following example.
Check this sequence of beats:
Let's add an accent every four beats.
Uptown Funk is a great example to understand how this accent works. This song is in 115 BPM. The clap you hear is the accentuated pulse. Listen to it and try to clap along.
The result of accentuating a beat and creating patterns is what we call measure:
In music notation, the vertical lines indicate the separation between one measure and another.
Bear in mind that the accent does not necessarily have to be every four beats. It can be every 2, or every 3, etc.
🤯 I know this is a lot of information to process and I don't want to overwhelm you. I invite you to review this information and in the next article, we will talk more in-depth about the compass.
To finish, although we can understand and explain rhythm using music theory, that's not enough. Rhythm is all about feeling it with our whole body. If you can dance to it, you can play it. So, my final advice is, in order to understand rhythm, listen to a lot of music and dance 🕺🏽!
See you next time,