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Rhythm is closely tied to being a human being, as it is related to rate at which we breath, to our heartbeat, and to
the tempo that we walk or run. Dancing is also closely linked to the rhythms of music.
The essence of rhythm is a recurring pattern of tension and release. Rhythm is the flow of music through time and is
based on the arrangement of note lengths in a piece of music. Rhythm has several interrelated aspects: beats, meter,
accents, syncopation, and tempo.

The beat is a regular, recurrent pulsations that divides music into equal units of time (what you tap your foot to).
Beats form the background for notes of varying lengths. Beats are the basic units of time by which all notes are
measured. More specifically, rhythm can be defined as the particular arrangement of note lengths in a piece of
music. The rhythm of a melody is an essential feature of its character.

In music, we find repeated patterns of a strong beat, followed by one or more weaker beats. The organization of
beats into regular groups is called meter. A group containing a fixed number of beats is called a measure (or
bar). There are several types of meter that are based on the number of beats in a measure.
The vertical lines on the staff mark the beginnings and ends of measures. The first, or stressed beat, of a measure
is known as the downbeat. Most jazz, rock and almost all pop music, is usually in quadruple meter (4 beats to the
measure and the quarter note getting the beat).

Accents and Syncopation

An important aspect of rhythm is the way individual notes are stressed, how they get special emphasis. A note is
emphasized most obviously by being played louder than the notes around it, that is, by receiving an accent.
When an accented note comes where we normally would not expect one, the effect is known as syncopation
(accents on an unexpected beats). A syncopation may also occur when an offbeat note is accented, that is, when
the stress comes on the upbeat between two beats (sometimes called the and). Syncopation is a characteristic
especially featured in jazz and African music.

Tempo refers to the rate of speed of the beat of the music (of the basic pace of the music). A fast tempo is
associated with a feeling of energy, drive, and excitement. A slow tempo often contributes to a solemn, lyrical, or
calm mood.
A tempo indication is usually given at the beginning of a piece. As with dynamics, the terms that show tempo are in
very slow, broad
very slow, solemn
andante moderately slow, a walking pace
moderato moderate
allegretto moderately fast
very fast
prestissimo as fast as possible

Qualifying words are sometimes added to tempo indications to make them more specific. The two most commonly
used are molto (much) and non troppo (not too much). A gradual quickening of tempo may be indicated by
writing accelerando (becoming faster), and a gradual slowing-down of tempo by ritardando or ritard
(becoming slower).
A metronome,is an apparatus that produces ticking sounds or flashes of light at any desired musical speed. The
metronome setting indicates the exact number of beats per minute.

In music, ideas are also written down, or notated, so that performers can play pieces unknown to them.
Notation is a system of writing music so that specific pitches and rhythms can be communicated.

Notating Pitch
With music notation, we can indicate exact pitches by the upward or downward placement of symbols, called
notes, on a staff. A note is an oval. Its duration is indicated by whether it is black or white or has stems and/or
flags). A staff is a set of five horizontal lines. Notes are positioned either on the lines of the staff or between them,
in the spaces. The higher a note is placed on the staff, the higher its pitch. Seven of the twelve pitches are named
after the first seven letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. This sequence is repeated over and over to represent
the same tones in higher and lower octaves, and it corresponds to the white keys of the piano. The other five tones of
the octave correspond to the black keys of the piano and are indicated by one of the same seven letters plus a sharp

or a flat sign

or D flat (

. Thus, the pitch between C and D may be called C sharp (

; half-step lower than D). A natural sign

; half-step higher than C)

is used to cancel a previous sharp or flat sign.

A clef is placed at the beginning of the staff to show the pitch of each line and space. The two most common clefs
are the treble clef, used for relatively high pitches (such as those played be the pianists right hand), and the bass
clef, used for relatively low pitches (such as those played be the pianists left hand).

Notating Rhythm
Music notation does not indicate the exact duration of tones; instead, it shows how long one tone lasts in relation to
others in the same piece. A single note on the staff lasts longer or shorter depending on how it looks, on whether it is
white or black and/or has a stem or flags.

One whole note lasts as long as 2 half notes or 4 quarter notes, and so on. As shown, the flags of several eighth notes
or sixteenth notes in succession are usually joined by a horizontal beam.
To lengthen the duration of a tone, we can make it a dotted note. Adding a dot (.) to the right of a note increases
its duration by half. Thus, 1 quarter note ordinarily equals 2 eighth notes, but 1 dotted quarter note equals 3 eighth

A tie
is another way to lengthen the duration of a note. When two notes in a row are the same pitch and
are connected by a tie, the first note is lengthened by the duration of the second.
The triplet is three notes of equal duration notated as a group within a curved line and the number 3. Such a group
lasts only as long as if it were two notes of equal value:

Notating Silence (Rests)

In music notation, durations of silence are notated by using a symbol called a rest. Rests are pauses or points of
silence. Their durations correspond to those of notes:

Notating Meter
A time signature (or meter signature) shows the meter of a piece. It appears at the beginning of the staff at the
start of a piece (and again later if the meter changes) and consists of two numbers, one on top of the other. The upper
number tells how many beats fall in a measure; the lower number tells what kind of note gets the beat. Thus the time

shows that there are 2 beats to the measure and the quarter note gets 1 beat. Quadruple meter is usually

(or for common time). The most common triple meter is

the beat).

(3 beats to the measure and the quarter note gets

The Score
A score shows the music for each instrumental or vocal category in a performing group. Often, an orchestral
score will show more than fifteen different staves of notation.

A melody is a series of single tones that add up to a recognizable whole. A melody moves by small intervals
called steps if it moves by adjacent scale tones. If it moves by larger ones they are called leaps. A step is the
interval between two adjacent scale tones (either a half step or a whole step). Any interval larger than a step is a
leap. Besides moving up or down by step or leap, a melody may simply repeat the same note. A melody's range
is the distance between its lowest and highest tones. The emotional focal point of a melody is called the climax.
How the tones of a melody are performed can vary its effect too. Sometimes they are sung or played in a smooth,
connected style called legato. Or they may be performed in a short, detached manner called staccato.
Many melodies are made up of shorter parts called phrases. These short units may have similar pitch and
rhythmic patterns that help unify the melody. On the other hand, contrasting phrases can furnish variety.
A repetition of a melodic pattern at a higher or lower pitch is called a sequence. A resting place at the end of a
phrase is called a cadence. It may be partial, setting up expectations for continuation (an incomplete cadence),
or it may give a sense of finality (a complete cadence). A melody can also serve as the starting point for a more
extended piece of music. This kind of melody is called a theme.