In this theory lesson, we'll look at rhythm. Music can be seen as a combination of melody, harmony and rhythm. Melody and harmony are related to WHICH notes are played, rhythm is about WHEN notes are played and HOW LONG they last.


In order to understand rhythm, let's look at a few concepts related to it:


- Rhythm. A rhythm can be seen as the occurance of notes and sounds in time.


- Beat. The basic time unit in music. Beat can also refer to the drum rhythm in hip hop music.


- Pulse. Pulse is the repetition of beats over time, occurring at fixed intervals. If you hear a piece of music and start tapping your foot, you're probably feeling and tapping the pulse.


- Tempo. Tempo refers to the speed or pace of a piece of music, more precisely how fast or slow the pulse is in a certain piece of music. Tempo is often described in BPM or beats per minute.


- Note. A musical sound of a certain duration. Not to be confused with the word tone, which as a theoretical term relates to the pitch of a musical sound.


- Note value. Note value means the relative duration of a note. The most used note values are: whole note (typically 4 beats), half note (2 beats), quarter note (1 beat), eighth note (half beat), sixteenth note (quarter beat) and thirty-second note (eighth beat).

Other values include triplet, quarter note triplet and quintuplet.


- Bar/Measure. A bar is a fixed number of beats of a certain duration. A Piece of music generally consists of a number of bars of the same length.


- Form. The form of a piece of music consists of a fixed number of bars. When all the bars in the form are played, the form starts over. For instance, Blues has a twelve-bar form.


- Meter/Time signature. The meter or time signature of a piece of music describes how many beats there are in one bar, and what the value of those beats is. Examples of meters are 4/4 (4 beats that each last a quarter note) and 3/4 (3 quarter-note beats).

rhythm and groove - parliament funkadelic
Parliament Funkadelic play GROOVY music


- Rest. This is a silence of a certain duration. Rests are usually described in the same way that note values are described. For example: whole rest, half rest and so on.


- Groove. This refers generally to a certain rhythmical pattern and the 'feel' of that rhythm (the effect that listening to that rhythm has on the human body). For instance: Funk is groovy music. People naturally react to groovy music by dancing, nodding their head or tapping their feet.


In the next lesson, i'll show you HOW TO PLAY rhythms on the guitar.


rhythm and note values