(1b. The Notational System)

Rhythmic Notation

 

VALUE OF UNDERSTANDING RHYTHMIC NOTATION

The rhythm notational system indicates how long to hold a note and when to move on to the next note.  This is very helpful in keeping your place on the page and gives you a sense of security.  Thus here is some info. on rhythmic notation.  But realize that in barbershop singing, we frequently change the rhythm that is written, to improve the interpretation and to communicate the song better.


THE BEAT

The “Beat” is the organizing unit for everything rhythmic.  It pulses evenly like the tick tock of a clock.  The beat can be fast or slow, change speed or stop but it always underlies all music and is the way we know how long a note should be held.  Be sure to develop a sensitivity to this beat.   It’s especially important to feel the beat when different voices have different words and/or rhythms.


THE MEASURE BAR

The beats are organized into “Measures”.  A measure is the space between two bar lines.   By grouping beats into measures we usually don’t have to count above 4.  The first beat of each measure is very slightly accented - sometimes more strongly in more rhythmic music or less accented in ballads.


NOTE VALUES

The note values are dependent on the Meter Signature.


METER SIGNATURE

The Meter Signature is the two numbers at the beginning of the song, such as 4/4 or 3/4.  Sometimes there is just a big C or a C with a slash thru it.

1. The Top Number tells us how many beats there are in a measure.

2. The Bottom Number tells us what kind of a note gets one beat.

        4=Quarter note    2=Half note    8=Eighth note

3. The big C (common time) is the same as 4/4

4. The slashed  C  (Cut Time) is the same as 2/2


Here is a

Chart of Note Values in Different Meter Signatures













Study this chart until it makes sense.


The most common note that is used for the beat is the quarter note so especially study the values in that column i.e. 2/4 3/4 4/4

C stands for “Common Time” and C with a slash thru it stands for “Cut Time” (2/2).


But what is notated as the beat is less important than what you decide the beat will be.  For instance, in Cut Time (2/2) it makes hardly any difference at all whether you think the Quarter Note is the beat or whether the Half Note is the beat.  The important thing is that what you decide, you keep steady.


Here are some different meter signatures and some of the notes you might typically find in those meters.  The beat is in the Lead part (Treble Clef with stem going down).  Study these until it all makes sense.  Also compare it to the Chart above.









VALUE OF UNDERSTANDING RHYTHMIC NOTATION

The rhythm notational system indicates how long to hold a note and when to move on to the next note.  This is very helpful in keeping your place on the page and gives you a sense of security.  Thus here is some info. on rhythmic notation.  But realize that in barbershop singing, we frequently change the rhythm that is written, to improve the interpretation and to communicate the song better.


THE BEAT

The “Beat” is the organizing unit for everything rhythmic.  It pulses evenly like the tick tock of a clock.  The beat can be fast or slow, change speed or stop but it always underlies all music and is the way we know how long a note should be held.  Be sure to develop a sensitivity to this beat.   It’s especially important to feel the beat when different voices have different words and/or rhythms.


THE MEASURE BAR

The beats are organized into “Measures”.  A measure is the space between two bar lines.   By grouping beats into measures we usually don’t have to count above 4.  The first beat of each measure is very slightly accented - sometimes more strongly in more rhythmic music or less accented in ballads.


NOTE VALUES

The note values are dependent on the Meter Signature.


METER SIGNATURE

The Meter Signature is the two numbers at the beginning of the song, such as 4/4 or 3/4.  Sometimes there is just a big C or a C with a slash thru it.

1. The Top Number tells us how many beats there are in a measure.

2. The Bottom Number tells us what kind of a note gets one beat.

        4=Quarter note    2=Half note    8=Eighth note

3. The big C (common time) is the same as 4/4

4. The slashed  C  (Cut Time) is the same as 2/2


Here is a

Chart of Note Values in Different Meter Signatures













Study this chart until it makes sense.


The most common note that is used for the beat is the quarter note so especially study the values in that column i.e. 2/4 3/4 4/4

C stands for “Common Time” and C with a slash thru it stands for “Cut Time” (2/2).


But what is notated as the beat is less important than what you decide the beat will be.  For instance, in Cut Time (2/2) it makes hardly any difference at all whether you think the Quarter Note is the beat or whether the Half Note is the beat.  The important thing is that what you decide, you keep steady.


Here are some different meter signatures and some of the notes you might typically find in those meters.  The beat is in the Lead part (Treble Clef with stem going down).  Study these until it all makes sense.  Also compare it to the Chart above.









COUNTING BEATS

For rhythm we tap (or count) the beats, so in 4/4 time we would count,  1,2,3,4 1,2,3,4. etc.  To get used to this, I recommend that you take a favorite CD’s and tap the beat as you listen.  Pick lilting songs that move along steadily but not too fast.  i.e. the chorus of “You Make Me Feel So Young”.  Notice in your taping, that your hand not only goes down when you hit, but that half way thru the hit, that your hand hits at the top which is the “half-beat”.  To understand the half-beat better, make a point of hitting at the top (in your mind) or physically by putting your other hand above the taping so that you hear both the beat (at the bottom) and the half-beat (at the top).  We can get into this much more deeply in “Topic 1f. Additional Rhythmic Information”.  For now, simply feel the beat and half-beat and count the note rhythms.


HOLDING A NOTE

There is sometimes a confusion as to how the Counting of notes relates to the Value of notes.  That’s because we use numbers to indicate two different things in rhythm - 1) a “Point in time” (the Counting) and 2) a “Block of time” (the Value of notes).    For instance in 4/4 time the half-note gets two beats but we stop the half-note on count 3.   In the illustration below, the quarter note (a 1 beat note) stop on Point 2.  Study this until you understand this concept.



DOTTED NOTES

Another important fact to learn is that “a dot adds one half the value of it’s note.”  Thus in 4/4 time, the dotted half note gets 3 beats and the dotted quarter note gets a beat and a half etc.  Be sure you understand this.


RESTS

Here are the rests commonly found in music.

                                        Whole Rest                        Half Rest



                                       



Notice that the Whole Rest hangs below the line (it’s bigger and heavier) and the Half Rest sits on top of the line (being smaller  & lighter)


Quarter Rest:                Eighth Rest:                  Sixteenth Rest:



TRIPLETS

Not very often but occasionally in barbershop music, do we find “Triplets” (3 notes connected with a curved slur or bracket and with a little 3 near it).  This means that 3 notes are to be sung evenly in the time that 2 of that kind of note are usually sung.  Study the example below comparing the bari part with the tenor part.  Also notice in the second beat in the bari, that the first note gets 2/3’s of the beat and the second note gets 1/3 of the beat.  We’ll get into this further in “Topic 1f. page on Advanced Rhythmic Understanding”.










COMPOUND TIME

When the beat is consistently subdivided into triplets the proper way to write the song is to use “Compound Time” such as 6/8   9/8   or 12/8.   Contrary to what we said in the paragraph above on “Meter Signature”, in these meters, the dotted quarter note usually gets the beat in Compound Time.  This makes 2 beats per measure in 6/8,   3 beats per measure in 9/8  and 4 beats per measure in 12/8  with the consistent triplet subdivision of the beat.  We will go into this much more deeply in “Topic 1f. Additional Rhythmic Information”.



                                  Click Here To Continue.


                                   I would love to hear from you. 

                          I appreciate any comments or suggestions.

                                  tednorton@roadrunner.com



                            Click here to Return to MusicEdTed.info  HomePage