GCSE MUSIC - RHYTHM & METRE

- Basic rhythm values

- Time signatures

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Rhythm Values - Semibreve

  • 4 beats
  • When you have more than one it looks the same.
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Rhythm Values - Minim

  • 2 beats
  • When you have more than one it looks the same.
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Rhythm Values - Crotchet

  • 1 beat
  • When you have more than one it looks the same.
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Rhythm Values - Quaver

  • 1/2 beat
  • When you have more than one it looks different.
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Semiquaver

  • 1/4 beat
  • When you have more than one it looks different.
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Rhythm Values - Dotted Rhythms

  • A dot adds half the value of the note again, e.g.:
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Time Signatures - Structure

2 - top number referes to the number of beats per bar.

4 - bottom number refers to the type of beat (2 = minim, 4 = crotchet).

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Time Signatures - Simple Time

In a simple time signature, each beat of the pulse divides into 2. If it is simple you can count along going '1 and 2 and...' etc. or you can say the word apple along with it.

- 2/2

- 2/4

- 3/4 

- 4/4

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Time Signatures - Compound Time

In a compound time signature, each beat of the pulse is divided into three. If it is compound you can count along going '1 and a 2 and a...' etc. or you can say the word pineapple along with it.

- 6/8 (feel 2 beats per bar)

- 9/8 (feel 3 beats per bar)

- 12/8 (feel 4 beats per bar)

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Metronome Mark

A metronome mark tells you how fast a piece of music is as an alternative to an Italian term. θ == 100 means that there are 100 crotchet beats per minute. Therefore, θ == 60 means that there are 60 crotchet beats per minute (1 per second), θ == 120 means that there are 120 crotchet beats per minute (2 per second).

  • If you are asked to work out a metronome mark, use the second hand on a clock to help you estimate.
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Italian Terms for Tempo

  • Largo - very slow, stately
  • Lento - slow
  • Adagio - slow
  • Andante - walking pace, medium speed
  • Moderato - medium speed
  • Allegro - fast
  • Vivace - lively, fast
  • Presto - fast (faster than allegro)
  • Accelerando or accel. - gradually getting faster
  • Rallentando or rall. - gradually getting slower
  • Rubato - with some freedom of time
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Rhythmic Devices

  • Syncopation - an off-beat rhythm. If you clap the pulse, most of the notes of the suncopated rhythm will happen between your claps.
  • Cross rhythms/polyrhythms/bi-rhythms - layering more than one rhythm on top of another. This is used a lot in African drumming among other types of music.
  • Ostinato - a repeating pattern.
  • Swung - where the first of each quaver in a pair is longer than the other. It sounds a little like a dotted rhythm. If you say 'one and two and three and four and...' rather then each word having the same amount of time, make the numbers a little longer and the 'and's quite short.
  • Dotted rhythm - a rhythm where every other note is dotted and so longer than the second.
  • Hemiola - in a 3/4 time signature, where three minims are used giving the effect of a temporary move to 2/4.
  • Rhythmic augmentation - every note value of a rhythm is doubles making it sound slower.
  • Rhythmic diminution - every other note value of a rhythm is halved making it sound faster.
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