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What is the Rhythm?


You ever tried to explain to a blind person what a "green"? Of course, I have not tried, and frankly, I hope that I never in my life do not have to try. There are some things that we really do not think, for us they are natural level of unconditioned reflexes.

Few of us know how to get into someone else's skin and look the part, how an outsider perceives our words others, his own ears. His brain, his knowledge. It was a small lyrical introduction. It prompted me understanding that when you, as a musician, you share with a person untrained musical knowledge, it is not always well understood, what you're saying.

Time and its relationship with the Meter and Rhythm

For example, the phenomenon of rhythm. Like all of us understand nad know this word. We using it in different contexts, and sometimes do not think about this original meaning. We say - "The Rhythm In My Life", "Heartbeat", "Rhythmic Dance", and so on... Sometimes we use other words close to the concept of rhythm - for example, tempo. Some musicians say - "in waltz tempo" is this correctly? May be correct "in waltz"? If you start thinking about it - is that we're not quite clear vision of the border between the concepts of rhythm and tempo. Do not know why the device, which in our understanding sets the pace or rhythm - called "metronome." Why not "ritmonom." And then what is the meter?

It turned out that even for many musicians these concepts - "the dark forest". So I decided to write a short tutorial outlining the basics concepts of rhythm, meter, tempo, tell you about their musical value, interaction. Not quite sure that the article will really small, as they say - the appetite comes with eating.

Not quite sure that the article will really small, as they say - the appetite comes with eating. Let's start with the notion that we are very close, we live life and do not get away from it can. Concept of time.

The Concept of Time:

Time - this is our fourth dimension. As the philosophers say, straight - it is the trace of a point moving perpendicular to itself. Plane - it's the same track from a straight line. Space - the trace of a moving plane perpendicular to itself. And the time - this is a consequence of motion our space. We four-dimensional beings, because we simply do not have the length, width and height, but it's all there in the dynamics - that is in move-in development. Our space is moving and expanding, and the direction of the expansion sets the time.

We understand the times in different interpretations. On the one hand it is constantly running one after another moment. On the other - a segment from one event to another. On the third hand - time is the point at which a particular event occurs. For example, we go to the subway in the morning from 9 to 10 hours. Hour - this time on the road. Or do we need to be in a certain place at exactly 11.30. And these figures - the same time.

And what time is applied to music? This is what distinguishes music from other forms of art - from painting, sculpture, woodcarving and so on. Music unfolds in time, it goes through certain stages - from conception, through development, to a climax, and to the final point. Live music some life limited its scope. And in this life there are ups and downs, milestones, important events.

Beat, Share, Size:

If what is accessible and understandable - that problems with understanding and rhythm, tempo and meter will not. Still need a little more preparation of the terminology began elementary music theory.

In any piece of music, there are certain segments into which it is divided. Also, the point by which the division takes place. The easiest and a short section of a musical work - it's the beat. A point that defines the beginning of a measure - called the downbeat. In addition to the strong, of course, there is still in tact downbeat and relatively strong beats. Many have heard the musicians "believe": one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and. Many saw as an orchestra conductor waving a stick. So, swing sticks downwards always means "time." This is the downbeat, and it guided her all the musicians of the orchestra, not to "fall apart." Before the onset of a strong share of the bar to indicate the vertical line is placed - it is called the clock feature. Immediately behind the clock feature is always downbeat.

In cycle may be different numbers of shares. This number specifies the size of the product. Most often in the music we hear on TV or radio, size includes four lobes. This is the most common, "template" size, which turned out surprisingly harmonious to create works of dance genres. Virtually all modern electronic, dance and pop music written in four parts.

But there are other dimensions. If you do not go too far in music theory, it is enough to know that the dimensions are simple, complex and mixed. Simple consist of two or three lobes. Complex - simple combinations of sizes, but only consist of the same dimensions. For example, with four size fractions (about which I wrote above) - consists of two elements in the two lobes. Well mixed sizes include heterogeneous components such as quintuple size is divisible by 2 + 3 (or 3+2).

In view of the above, simple and complex dimensions are divided into bipartite and ternary. Complex size with nine shares will Trifid - 3+3+3. Complex size with six lobes as can be trilobal (3+3) and dicotyledonous (2+2+2).

Earlier, in ancient times, triplex were also very common in dance music. Waltz, polonaise, minuets - it's all based on ternary dance beat. Now in pop music triplex used except that the most advanced composers who are not afraid to remain unappreciated. However, complex (and mixed) dimensions are quite common in rock music, jazz, fusion, jazz-rock, art rock, and so on.

Meter and Tempo:

So back to the strong and weak holdings. Imagine that we have the raw data - the beat of the four lobes. Downbeat, only the first will be called. Relatively strong, that portion will be called, which begins with a component of our size. Recall that we have four lobes are divided into 2+2, which means the third share will begin the second element. It is called relatively downbeat. The remaining shares are called weak - the second and fourth.

Shares in tact with each other are equal in duration. If the work is fast, one share lasts a short time. If slow - the proportion of longer. Here is the alternation of equal shares throughout the product - called the meter. Distinguish it separately.

Meter - the alternation of strong and weak beats in the product.

That's the word from the name of the auxiliary meter occurred musical instrument - the metronome. Someone must have seen and remember the old-fa as a pyramid, from which protrudes a vertical pendulum, and if the pendulum has to run - it produces uniform clicks, highlighting one of the parts: "Tum-clop-clop-clop, Tum-clop-clop-clop." Tum - it's downbeat, clop - relative strengths and weaknesses. Today primarily use electronic metronomes. In addition, the metronome can be found on the Internet, on demand "online metronome."

The speed with which "clicks her" metronome - it's tempo. The higher the rate - the faster work. Distinguish it.

Tempo - the speed of alternation of strong and weak beats in the product.

By the way, returning to the concept of time - highly skilled musicians, in addition to the word "share", also used the term "time." You can hear phrases like "trumpet came on strong time" or "permitted on a strong chord of time." Thus given to understand that the strong share - is not just a beginning of a new segment (measure), but also a dramaturgic important moment in the novel. In a more narrow sense of the word "share" and "time" can be simply synonymous.

Up to this point, in principle, should be clear. When you sit at a concert and clapping during the work (you probably call it "the rhythm of work") - you knock meter. Not rhythm, namely meter at a certain pace. To the rhythm of it so far has no relation. Someone stamping his foot instinctively, when the radio plays "rhythmic" work. This meter also instead rhythm. Someone puts music on headphones, and "in tempo" of this music is sweeping the road. The steps to this point are counted as the meter.


Now we know that this cycle, the percentage meter and tempo. Partly also met with the notion of size. And then it all gets a bit complicated, we turn to the concept of rhythm.

If the unit meter we had a share, the unit of measurement is the length of the rhythm. And with durations need to understand carefully.

To make it easier to understand what is the length - turn to associations. Suppose you collect anecdotes. Do you have a notebook in which you write them. Each notebook on four pages. On one page can fit one regular anecdote, maybe two small ones. But there are also great anecdotes that do not fit on one page. These anecdotes may occupy half page, or even two.

Your notebook - this cycle, notebook page - share and one anecdote - is a kind note, which has a duration. The duration may be equal to the fraction may be less than it, and may be more.

One page - a quarter of your notebook. If you write an anecdote - that is a quarter of the length of the joke notebook, ie page. If the anecdote is very large and takes two pages - it is equal to half of the notebook. And if a small anecdote, fit on half a page - it is equal to an eighth of a notebook. It's all simple arithmetic, elementary school students available.

In music - the same. Shares are different. For example, "quarter-circle." And if the stroke four such fraction, it consists of four quarters. Four quarters - this is the exact size designation, which we have already talked a lot. It's writes in the product in the form of two digits of each other, of which the top indicates the number of beats per measure, and the bottom - then what is the share. For example, if the label states that 4/4, this means that this cycle is composed of four quarter-lobes.

Begs the logical question - why is 4/4 did not identify simply as one whole? After 4/4 = 1? All right. But we are interested in the rhythm of pulsation. So we need to give the product meter. It turns out that giving designation four installments - we denote the meter works. Remember, as a drummer at rock concerts will knock four times before the song sticks? It's counts the meter, "one-two-three-four." And we remember that if the proportion of four, after the word "four" come again "time." It will be a "strong future", to which come all the other musicians. And if we had written instead of 4/4 just one - no one would knew exactly when to enter.

But back to the notebooks with anecdotes. If one page can fit two anecdotes - each of them is the eighth part of the notebook. Likewise, if one share in 4/4 time played two notes - they are called "the eighth." If the four quarter-notes per share - "sixteen", and so on. Well, on the contrary, if you play a long note, which occupies just two share - it's called "half", ie it lasts two quarters. In the case of 4/4 is equal to half note half cycle.

It should be borne in mind that the clock can also consist of two quarter shares. Then he will be referred to two quarters, and then note the length of the two lobes will take a beat, although it will remain a "half."

The logic in all of this is very simple, and if you did not immediately understand the difference between the proportion of the length of the notes - you can just read a few paragraphs again. Well, if everything is clear - you probably already guessed that the length of the notes - this is the duration.

"Why music theorists so complicate?" - The question may arise. Why not call it a common word length? To this question is the answer. The fact that the same note, you can play as quickly or slowly. And if the notes were written without reference to the shares, the absolute length of time - it would have to rewrite the product every time you want to play it faster or slower. And when there is a share, size and meter - just change the tempo and everything. The duration of one quarter note at any tempo equals the sum of the durations of the two eighth notes, but it is twice as short as half note. All in accordance with the usual arithmetic. No wonder Aristotle called the music branch of mathematics.

At a rate of "four quarters" (as well as three-quarters, two, and so on) crotchet will take exactly one share and at a fast pace and slow. Therefore, the designation of pace, which sounds work - an absolute concept. We say - "one hundred twenty beats per minute" and the metronome plays us two hits per second, and is denoted by "120 bpm» (beats per minute). But the timing of the notes - a relative term. Minim at a pace of 120 bpm will last one second. A half note at a pace of 60 bpm - two seconds (two quarter metronome beat, each lasting 1 second). You can play the same length in a very fast and very slow pace.

Features Recording Durations:

As you know, there are whole duration, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and so on. There are additional music notation, allowing to record the duration of more or less basic.

For example, using the points delivered near the note can indicate that the length is increased by half. "A quarter of a point" is the sum of the duration of the quarter and eighth. "Half a point" adds to his quarter. If you've seen in terms of musical notation and did not know what they are - now you know. But do not confuse them with the points that are placed over the notes and under them. These dots indicate staccato - ie jerky game. In principle, this also applies to some extent to the rhythm.

In addition, the duration of the note may increase the so-called League. This arc which connects two or more notes. If two adjacent identical notes "zaligovany" - this means that the total running time of these sounds is the sum of the durations of the notes. This is useful in some cases when it is impossible to identify other ways duration. For example, if the note lasts longer than one cycle, then extend it across the bar line is only possible with the help of the league. Also, sometimes you want to add a note for the duration of 1/4+1/16. If you had to add an eighth - we would just put a point, but you can only add a sixteenth with the league.

And with such a record as a triplet - you can set the sound of three notes instead of two. Where one share could only play an eighth two - three played an eighth "triplet." There are also quadruplet, quintuplets, tuplet and so on, but the most common triplets, so still quite limited.


Now the concept of duration has become more affordable. And on this basis we can talk about the rhythm.

If we were talking about the share that inside they beat each other are equal, then the duration of the measure can be inside all different. For example, the beat in 4/4 may consist of durations: 1/2 + 1/4 +1 / 4. Or vice versa - 1/4 + 1/2 +1 / 4. May be variations with other eighth-and durations, as well as points and triplets. The main thing is that their sum equals the size of the measure.

Rhythm - a concept more arbitrary than a meter. Coming up with music, or working on the arrangement, we choose the duration of notes that will sound. A meter remains unchanged. Duration varied in alternate order to form a rhythmic pattern. This feature formed the theoretical definition of rhythm.

Rhythm - alternating durations of notes in the product.

It is important not to forget that not every moment have to sound any note of every instrument. Often instruments are short-term or long breaks in the sound. Break the sound called "pause". Pause, just as sounding notes form rhythmic fabric of the party and work. And they, too, are whole, half, quarter, and so on.

Pause - break in the sound.

Well, now we know what rhythm. But it's not all there is to know about this.

Role of Rhythm in the Music:

Any melody has a rhythm - because it consists of notes of varying lengths. If all the notes were in any melody equal in duration - it would be quite interesting. Performing a song singers love to pull the most beautiful music. And sometimes the notes, on the contrary, executed shortly groups saturated passages. Modern styles of performance recitative type hip-hop involve more rhythmic vocal line saturation. But all this "linear" rhythm.

And then there is rhythm, which defines the structure of the work, its genre affiliation. What we call the "style" of music. Many easily identify by ear different musical styles - rock, dance music, latin, reggae and so on. But not everyone understands that the basis of these styles - the rhythm section. That is, those instruments that play cyclical rhythms of repetitive cycles to measure. First of all, of course, drums, percussion and bass. From an academic point of view, to the rhythm section can also include rhythm guitar, piano, banjo, and any other tools by which we can vary the rhythm of execution.

Knowing the characteristics of different styles - you can easily program the rhythm section on the computer or on any iron sequencer, whether a drum machine or workstation.

For example, it is enough to place in 4/4 per share barrel reinforce 2 and 4 share the snare and kick drum placed between short hayhet - that already sounds regular dance rhythm section.

If placed on the barrel 1 and 3 share (strong and relatively strong), small 2 and 4 (weak), and eighth-hayhet play throughout the cycle (two per share) - it will be the usual bits are often used in rock music.

And if you take a dance pattern from the first example and play hayhet sixteenths (sixteen notes per measure) - get the style "disco".

Other styles have their own characteristics, but all of these features can be analyzed and reproduced. No matter what you want to play music in the style of house or salsa, reggae or rock-n-roll, any of these areas is based on the alternation durations, they are based - the rhythm.

But, of course, in addition to the rhythmic pattern is very important to recognize the characteristic of this frame style tempo. For example, if you decide to make dance music - that most likely makes sense to use the pace of 120-135 bpm. Because exactly the same picture, played in tempo 90 bpm longer will encourage the listener to dance.

Analyze favorite works for the pace at which they are executed. This is a very important aspect that directly affects the success of your arrangements. To measure the rate of any record - on the email, there is a button metronomes Tap Tempo, clicking on which several times during the sound track (pressing need to share - one, two, three, four), you can see on the screen is quite exact numeric tempo.

Interaction of Meter and Rhythm:

And another very important part of this article. She touches the interaction of meter and rhythm.

The fact is that although the meter and rhythm are different concepts, they are working in tandem. Stylistics product determines how they interact closely and coordinated. Between rhythm and meter can be three types of relations. They are caused by the definitions of these two terms:

  • Rhythm and meter support each other. Rhythmically strong beats (musical accents) basically coincide with metrically strong lobes (remember that the metrically strong share - first).
  • Rhythm and meter contrast with each other. Rhythmically strong beats do not coincide with metrically strong shares. This happens quite often.
  • Rhythm and meter neutral to each other. This usually happens when the rhythm is not too pronounced.

I can recall many different examples of specific interaction of meter and rhythm. Those who are familiar with jazz music even sure can remember the anecdote about the nightmare of Louis Armstrong, who had a dream that he is white and plays "on the downbeat." Jazz lovers know that the foundation of this genre of rhythm - the allocation of weak beats.

If your knowledge of jazz extensive - we can recall the style of bebop, where a game is constantly "enhanced" outpacing accent. Notes attributable to all the major share - attenuated while the emphasis in improvisation played on intermediate notes, and even with the rhythmic "type Operator."

Often you can hear about the fact that rock music is the main percussion instrument of the snare drum. And since the snare usually plays at 2 and 4 share - a feeling that these downbeat turn in strong, accented.

Recall and reggae - it often misses the first barrel portion, and plays at second. Bass also constantly fulfills its line, skipping downbeat meters. Guitar or other instruments, playing rhythm games, give emphasis to the "and" between the lobes. That is highlighting eighths after each of the main lobe.

Another example of a missed downbeat - salsa. In this style of rhythmic downbeat occurs before the first, that is, as it were, ahead of the work itself. In salsa is usually responsible for the bass and drums.

Neutral rhythm in modern styles you can often hear music in the lounge, or in stop-halves trance works.

In academic music neutral rhythm too frequent - mostly in solo performance on piano, guitar, sometimes singing songs, arias. Movement as if it is constantly accelerating, then slowing down - depending on the feelings of the performer. Such performance in traditional academic music commonly referred to as rubato or ad libitum.


These are quite simple, but very important knowledge. Do not worry if the first reading is not all in my head subsided. Re-read again and again, slowly and thoughtfully. Information is really confusing at first glance, but once you have it dismantled - see how suddenly just got to work with the rhythm in your arrangements.

In general, a lot of nuances, and rhythm can talk endlessly. But in all the main thing - to know the basics, and I hope this article has helped them a little systematized.


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