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  • Writer's pictureManuel Diewald

How to Read Rhythm in Music easier

My name is Manuel Diewald and I am a Sydney-based guitar teacher in West Pennant Hills with a B.Mus. (Hons) (First) in Music Pedagogy from The University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Rhythm can be confusing to follow at times, especially when the rhythm is mainly on the off-beat rather than the down-beat. A valuable lesson I learned from my teacher Raffaele Agostino was to sub-divide the music into the shortest note value. For example, if you are learning a section where the shortest note value is a quaver then you want to write out quaver rhythms above or below the rhythm in the bar so you can visually see where each beat lies. You can see this in the images below.

Image 1


In the first image, you can see I have found the shortest note value which is the quaver in the first bar (and throughout the piece). Best use the shortest note value of the whole piece to help keep with the rhythmic feel of the piece though use this to your discretion. I have then written underneath the bar the rhythm using only quavers to see what note lands on which beat (down-beat or the off-beat).

Image 2


In the second image, I have done the same thing for the second bar as the rhythm is the same except I have now circled the note and which beat that note lies under to help better identify where that note lies within the rhythm.

A helpful tip when going through a rhythm once you have written the sub-divided rhythm out is to count out loud using the shortest note value. For example, in the example I have given, I would count out loud '1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and'. Each number is landing on the down-beat and the 'and' is landing on the off-beats.

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