Term 1 Theory Lessons & Quiz

2 Counting Rhythms

How to Count

To write rhythm counting under a line of music, we use numbers and the "plus" symbol: +. When we count rhythms in simple time, the subdivision in 2's makes every bar of common time sound like, if you counted it with words, "One and Two and Three and Four and." The number stands for the strong beat. The "and" is the subdivision of the beat and is weaker. It is called the offbeat. If we wrote it with numbers it would look like this: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

How to Write

When you write the rhythm counting under a line of music, the numbered beats always need to be there. If the note is articulated on that beat, the number is written underneath. If a beat has a held note, the number is still written, but it is included in brackets.

In the example below, the bar has two half notes. Each note is played on a beat and then held over into the next one, as indicated by the brackets. It shows that we are observing the held half note, but it isn't articulated.

"And" beats are only included when necessary to notate that certain rhythm. When they aren't needed, they simply aren't included. In the example below, "2 +" is used, but no other note is articulated on an "and" beat, so there are no other + in this counting measure.

As the rhythms get more complex, you need to include more of the "and" beats. In this syncopated rhythm, many notes fall on the "and" of the beat, rather than the strong numbered beat. That is what gives a syncopated rhythm such a neat sound. Practice clapping this rhythm and following along with the counting. Every bar has the 4 numbered beats, but some are in brackets because the note is only held over and not articulated on that beat.

Rests on a numbered beat are included in brackets because no sound should be heard on that beat. If the tie crosses over a strong numbered beat, the number should be included in brackets, just like we do with long notes.

The counting for these two bars is: 1 2 + (3) 4  //  1 (2) + 3 + 4

The bar line is written as two forward slashes: //

Try writing out the counting for these 4 rhythms. Scroll down for the answers.

Answers

Take special note of how each rhythm is written. Spaces are used between each symbol. Two forward slashes // are used to represent a bar line. You will be asked to write out counting in this way on your theory quiz.

Rhythm 1: 1 (2) 3 4 + // 1 (2) 3 4 + // 1 (2) (3) 4 + // 1 + 2 (3) (4)

Rhythm 2: 1 2 + (3) 4 // 1 (2) + 3 + 4 // 1 (2) + (3) + 4 // 1 + (2) + 3 4

Rhythm 3: 1 + (2) + (3) (4) + // 1 + (2) + 3 + 4 // 1 + (2) + (3) + (4) + // 1 + (2) + (3) + (4) +

Rhythm 4: 1 (2) + 3 // 1 + (2) (3) + // (1) + 2 (3) + // 1 2 + 3


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