MR A MUSIC PLACE – Rhythm, Beat, and Groove: What’s the Difference? – 1-14-15
It all seems simple in the early grades. Beat is the steady pulse of the music, and rhythm is the changing durations of what is being sung or played. Using movement, students learn the difference between beat and rhythm by walking the beat while clapping the rhythm. Because they are not doing the same thing with their feet and hands, the point that they are not the same is easily made. The issue becomes more complicated when the students get older. Around age eleven, they develop their own musical preferences, and become more attached to the music of popular culture. With this change in how they relate to music and relate music to their peers, students begin talking about the beat in a different way. They use the word to describe the overall rhythmic affect on them that the music has; an understanding more accurately described as groove. Groove is the combined affect of beat and rhythm on the body; it is a word that describes how our body responds to music with movement. Labeling groove as beat glosses over rhythmic structure of music, making it almost certain that understandings of its component parts, that is rhythm, beat and meter, will be overlooked.
As music teachers, we are up against a misunderstanding brought about by common yet misleading usage of the word beat. Part of the solution is to be sure our teaching goes beyond vocabulary, and includes application and experience. Defining beat as the steady pulse of the music is only engaging the intellect in learning the concept–it does not develop the deeper understanding that comes from experiencing the beat while being aware of what is being experienced, and manipulating the beat with creative and interpretive actions, which provides relevance and even deeper understanding. Here is how this could play out in a classroom.
5 Tips for Teaching Rhythm Composition (ABRSM)
May 6th, 2015 by Reuben Vincent
“I got rhythm…Who could ask for anything more?” – Ira GershwinTeaching rhythm to students is a real challenge. Some just “pick it up” naturally and others need, in the words of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, “hitting with the rhythm stick!”
So if you have a theory student preparing for an ABRSM exam (or similar), what can be done to inspire them to write a good rhythm worthy of a full 10 marks?
Tip 1: “Follow my leader!”
I like to switch my metronome on at around 80 BPM or better still, I’m now using “Drum Beats+” on my iPad. This really easy to use app generates drum loops. A favourite preset of mine is “Phat N Hairy 90,” probably because it describes me quite well! The age I mean!!!
Firstly, I clap or beat out on a percussion instrument a two-bar rhythm, encouraging them to copy me exactly. We keep going over and over with this same rhythm until they can replicate it perfectly. Then I change the “question” rhythm with new loop and see if they can respond by copying the changes.
Tip 2: Q&A
With the drum beat still looping, I then get them to make up their own rhythmic response. I don’t give them time to think about it because they can often freeze up and then it’s “game over!”
Sometimes, if they struggle with creativity, I will sing food items to generate a rhythm, for example:
Me: “I’d like a tiramisu!”
Student: “I’d like a burger!”
After they’ve built some confidence, I might try to encourage them to use a more complex reply. How about using a take-away menu?:
Me: “Tikka masala and pilau rice!”
Student: “Lamb jalfrezi and naan bread!”
Tip 3: “Write it down, it’s a good ‘un!”
Now comes the tricky bit; writing it down!
Hopefully, the student has been developing some rhythm counting skills so with practice they can learn to write out the rhythms they are hearing. A good starting point is to tap out a steady beat with the foot whilst clapping the rhythm over the top. At a drastically slowed down tempo, the rhythmic values should become more obvious.
A good idea is to get the student to write out the rhythm in a notation programme like Sibelius or using one of the many apps now available, so that they can hear the rhythm performed back to them by the technology. This really helps them to better understand how rhythms sound and if they are making mistakes in their notation, how to pin-point the error.
Tip 4: “Mission Impossible!”
But what if the exam question is in a difficult time signature like 4/2? Easy!
Convert the question into a more usable time signature like 4/4 and then after composing a rhythm in this easier time signature, finally convert the rhythm back to the original time signature to finish!
Tip 5: Leave a tip!
What advice can be given a student to get the best possible marks in the rhythm composition exam question?
• Finish the rhythm on a main beat of the bar (measure), not a sub-division
• Ideally, finish the rhythm on a longer note to give it a sense of finality
• Avoid having longer time values early in the rhythm as this can generate a premature sense of conclusion
• Use similar time values as was given in the question so that the rhythm “glues” nicely together
• Obviously, make sure that each bar (measure) has the correct combined time value!
• Make sure that each bar (measure) is correctly grouped
About the Author
Reuben Vincent is a freelance musician working as a composer, producer and private music teacher, based from his purpose built recording studio in Bagillt, Flintshire, North Wales, UK. His main instrument is the piano although he is also known for a “mean” solo on the Kazoo!!!
Rhythm, Accent, Syncopation
“Humans are naturally musical.”
In this segment of Howard Goodall’s 2006 documentary, a major exponent of why we enjoy music is explained in very clear and concise points.
He traces the roots of syncopation back to Africa, long before the West could grasp the concept, and explains the evolution of the shifting of accents in Western music using Philip Glass’s “Akhenaten” vs. Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” to illustrate.
Produced for WHS AP Music Theory http://goo.gl/vr5mA
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This is a guide review for Rhythm and Meter. In this video we explore the differences between Simple, Compound and Complex time signatures. This will help you understand how the beat accents work with subdivisions to create simple or compound meter. We will also take a look at different examples.
The most common eight note and sixteenth note rhythms. I go through the same rhythm with the written notes, with the counting at 100 beats per second, and slowed down at 70 beats per second. I used a fantom x8 to create most of the sounds and then played them through a line 6 podxt to add some effects. I programmed all the drums right in my sequencer software (sonar 3!) The visuals were created with Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0. (Except the note images which were exported from Finale. This exercise is a suppliment to the exercises for my book “How to Read Musical Rhythm Like a Genius”. Check out http://www.Patternpiano.com for more info.
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question…
Q: The idea of odd time really confuses me. I cant seem to understand how to count in different time signatures. Can you please help me out here with a lesson about feeling the different popular types of odd time signatures? Thanks in advance.
Bryce Minneapolis, MN. U.S.A.
Odd Meter or Irregular Time is still a re-curring pulse to track. Keep that in mind. Just like Regular Time, (such as 4/4) Irregular Time has a re-curring groove. This is the key to getting a handle on Odd Signatures.
The complete lesson article for this video is available on the Creative Guitar Studio website.
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