Rhythm in music refers to the pattern produced in music by the length of notes.
The time signature in a piece of music dictates to the pianist how long a bar of music and ultimately how a
music piece is to be played. With piano, rhythm is grouped in notes and rests.
If two quavers occur next to each other, they should be joined by the tail to group them into even beats. In
music, notes and rests are grouped to show the position of the beats in a bar.
Learning to count is an important aspect of learning basic piano playing rhythms. You will need to understand
time signatures to know that a bar in 4/4 time means 4 beats in a bar and that 3/4 time means 3 beats in a bar.
You will also need to know the value of music notes and for how long a note is counted for. For example, you
need to know that a semibreve counts for four beats in a bar and that a quaver counts for half a beat.
Here follows a list of the time values of the most commonly used notes which will help in counting out the
rhythm when playing the piano:
1. Semibreve. A semibreve looks like the letter ‘o’ and counts for 4 beats.
2. Minim. A minim is a semibreve with a tail and counts for 2 beats.
3. Crotchet. A crotchet is a coloured in minim and counts for one beat.
4. Quaver. A quaver is a crotchet with a hook on its tail and counts for half a beat.
Once you have mastered timing and notes you can then move on the
playing basic rhythms on the piano.
Chord progression is an excellent way to play basic rhythms. A chord progression is when a series of chords lead
naturally from one chord to another when changing chords. This can give a good sound to a composition. Chords
create good patterns. It is also good to know the basics of chord inversion which
means you can give a slightly different sound to the same chord.
Another way to change the rhythm of a piece is to change the speed in which you play a piece. Either play a
music piece faster or slower than intended.
The most important part of playing rhythm is to learn to count the duration of each note and bar properly. You
need to keep a constant rhythm and keep in time to produce a piece of music which is rhythmically correct and in
time to the given beat.
If you have difficulty in keeping to the rhythm when playing the piano, it is a good idea to clap out the rhythm
with your hands. You will also need to come up with a good system in your head to count the rhythm while playing
notes in a music piece so that you adhere strictly to the timing in a piece.
Sometimes it is good to count each beat of the bar as “one and”. This is one of the most important parts of
playing a music piece after knowing the notes in a music piece because you need to know how a piece is played
according to how fast or slow and the rhythm of each note.
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