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Concept Of Rhythm

Pitch expresses the relative “height” or “depth” of a sound. Once we know how to listen to the note played and recognize the concept of height and depth in a note, only then will we be able to understand the concept of the rhythm required to play a particular piece of music.

It is important to stress now that pitch is a fixed and permanent system of values, while rhythm is a relatively flexible one, which cannot function without some degree of interpretation.

In order to understand the relationship between the length of a note, it is necessary to explain the function of the pulse or beat of the music.

The pulse or beat provides the basic structure around which the rhythm is built. The speed of the pulse will differ from piece to piece, and often varies within a piece of music. This all depends on how the composer has written it, or it can also be altered by the performer to suit their musical skill.

Rhythm values fall into two categories – simple and compound. If learning to read music notation it is only necessary to comprehend the visual difference.

When written the compound value of a note is followed by a small dot, whereas simple values are not.

It is also very important to understand the simple system fully and comprehensively because the compound system is based upon it.

The reason for this is both have an equally important function in music notation.

For example, if you are learning to read music you will be told there are six simple basic values in common usage. Here is the terminology used to describe the relative lengths of the different symbols.

A semibreve sounds twice as long as a minim which sounds twice as long as a crotchet, which sounds twice as long as a quaver, which sounds twice as long as a semiquaver, which sounds twice as long as demisemiquaver.