Songs are made up with patterns, repeated rhythmic patterns made up of particular types of sound. Rhythm is the most essential element in a song. You can mix together any sounds you want, but without a rhythmic backbone to the sound there is no music. A rhythmic musical instrument is used to provide a strong beat to a piece of music. Think of the song “We Will Rock You” which has a distinct rhythmic pattern you can identify in the first four beats. It doesn’t matter if you are a singer or playing the piano (or any instrument) you must understand rhythm and timing in music. If a vocalist does not understand rhythm & timing they will have trouble knowing when to start a song or come in for each verse and chorus. A pianist must understand time signatures and bpm (beats per minute) to play a song on the piano.

The rhythm is music’s pattern in time (or beats per minute also know as BPM). It exists even if there is no melody (like big band music). Rhythm has different elements: beat, tempo (how fast or slow) and the time value (time signature) which is found at the beginning of a piece of music and looks like: 2   3   4   etc.

The top number in the time signature is going to tell you what the count is in the song. So the song attached is 4  which means you will count 1-2-3-4

If a 3 is at the top, it would be 1-2-3 (a waltz would have the 1-2-3 count). If a 2 is at the top, it would be 1-2 in every measure. The bottom number tells you which note gets 1 count. We will go more into that when we discuss note value.

There are 5 types of Rhythmic Patterns in music and they are:

  1. Random Rhythm is created when groups of similar patterns repeat with no regular pattern (like Jazz).
  2. Regular Rhythm is a regular pattern played throughout the song.
  3. Alternating Rhythm is two or more rhythm patterns alternating in the song.
  4. Flowing Rhythm is the flow of a natural pattern of beats being played throughout the song.
  5. Progressive Rhythm is a rhythm pattern that gradually increases (builds) or decreases and that gives you a sense of direction in the rhythm pattern.


What do you call a drummer in a three-piece suit?

 “The Defendant”

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