Join David Franz for an in-depth discussion in this video What is rhythm and what are beats?, part of Music Theory for Songwriters: Rhythm.
- Rhythm, the beat, the flow, the feel, time, tempo. These are all terms we may think of when talking about rhythm. The truth is, rhythm is easy to witness but tricky to define. We see rhythm in nature, the regular cycle of the seasons, earth's rotation through sunrise and sunset, the planets orbiting around the sun. These are all repeating patterns in time. Nature's rhythm. Your heartbeat is probably the best example of rhythm inside of you. It beats at a steady pace usually, but it can speed up when you're excited or slow down when you're mellow, however, the beat is constant.
When it comes to music, the meaning of rhythm gets a little more complicated. Rhythm has several elements: the beat, the tempo, and the feel. The beat is a pattern of pulses. Our simplest example is our heartbeat or a steady clap as we count. One, two, three, four. (clapping) If I clap a different beat. (clapping) That changes the rhythm.
The tempo is the pace or speed of the beat. (clapping) That's fast, but you can slow it down. (clapping) The third aspect of rhythm, feel, has to do with whether individual pulses within a beat are emphasized or not. A simple example of this is if I accent the one and three in our one, two, three, four clap. (clapping) This changes the feel of the rhythm.
Rhythm connects the beat and feel with the tempo. When you're in rhythm or in time with someone else, both of you are keeping a consistent beat at a tempo that is felt by both people. You're in the flow together, and when you're writing songs and making music, you usually want all the musical parts to be flowing together with rhythms that compliment each other in beat, tempo, and feel.
Music producer and record label owner David Franz starts the course with the building blocks of rhythm: counting, notes, measures, rests, rhythm notation, subdivisions, and tempo. He then explains time signatures, discussing common, compound, and asymmetrical time signatures, as well as double time and half time, and how to choose the time signature for a song. Next, he discusses the concepts of feel and timing, including dynamics, accents, articulations, tempo changes, swing, syncopation, polyrhythms, and playing ahead of, on, and behind the beat. Along the way, David demonstrates all of these concepts by playing musical examples on drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, and vocals.
- Notes, measures, and counting
- Rhythm and drum set notation
- Tempo, note lengths, and subdivisions
- Building rhythms
- Rests, triplets, duplets, dots, and ties
- Common time and 3/4 time
- Simple, compound, and odd time signatures
- Choosing a time signature
- Double time and half time
- Dynamics, accents, and articulations
- Tempo and tempo changes
- Choosing to be ahead of, on, or behind the beat
- Swing, syncopation, and off beats
- Polyrhythms (two rhythms at once)