You might have heard musicians joke about counting, one way or another. Saying that they only know how to count up to 4, or that counting is their life as they wait several measures before hitting a single note.
That brings us to today’s topic about music theory. While it is great that we can read a score and identify rhythms – how do we know what they sound like?
Let’s start off by looking at a piece of music in common time. The meter type is simple quadruple, so we know that beats are grouped into four within each measure.
First, establish a tempo (speed) for your basic pulse/beat. Your beat will match that of the quarter-notes; just as a rule of thumb. Now, count the quarter-notes in a repeating “1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1…” pattern as shown below.
Great! Now let’s try eighth-notes at the same tempo. Remember that eighth-notes are shorter in value and are in-between the quarter-notes. Count these at “1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and, 1…” just like the example below.
Sixteenth-notes are even shorter and will be counted as “1, ee, and, ah, 2, ee, and, ah, 3, ee, and, ah, 4, ee, and, ah, 1…” just like the example below, too.
Now, what about notes longer than a quarter note? Essentially, you will hold the count of the longer note and omit saying the beats that occur during it. For example, a measure of two half-notes would count “1… 3…” while omitting counts on 2 and 4 because the notes are held over those beats.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.