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Rhythm and Other Aspects of Notation

Melodies consist not only of successions of pitches, but also of pitches, but also of pitches performed in a particular rhythm. Some notes are long, some are short. The notational symbols used to indicate the pitch of a note also indicate its durtion(it's length). Additional symbols, called rests, are used to indicate the duration of silences.

Our system of rythmic notation is a Proportional one, in which the notational symbols do not designate foxed timings(such as 2 seconds), but rather, how long each note should be with respect to all other notes.

Rhythm Duration Chart

Whole Note The longest single note value in general use.
Half Note half the vaule of a whole note.
Quarter Note Half the value of a half note, one quater the value of a whole note.
Eighth Note Half the note of a quater note, one quater of a half note.
Sixteenth Note Half the value of a eighth note, one quater the value of a quarter note.

Other durations are made possible through the use of the:

Tie: a curved line connecting adjacent notes of the same pitch, whose effectis to bind the pitches together into a single duration.

Augmented Dot: A dot that immediately follows a note or rest, extending its duration by one-half the undotted value. A second dot adds one-half the value of the first dot.

Pulse and Beat

Most music moves along a at steady rate according to an underlying pulse(beat). The pulse marks off equal divisions of time and is the basic duration unit in a piece of music. Condustors generally beat out this pulse. However, if the pulse is slow, the conductor may divide it by adding "in between" beats. If the oulse is very fast, the conductor may beat only every second, thired or forth pulse. Thus the term "beat" and "pulse" are not always synonymous.

Tempo is the speed of the beat.

Accelerando becoming faster Moderato at moderate speed
Adagioslow, leisurely Presto very quick
Allegretto moderately fast Ritardando becoming gradually slower
Andante moderately slow Rubato flexible tempo
A tempo at the basic tempo Tempo primo at the original tempo
Largo very slow, broad Vivace quick, lively

An important element of rhythm is theaccent, stress (or emphasis) given to only certain notes. Rhythmic patterns consist combinations of one cycle of the accented and unstressed notes. There are accents where pitches can be stressed because of longer duartion or louder volume.

Meter and Measure
Meter is the grouping of pulses into patterns of two or more beats by means of accents. A measure consitutes one complete cycle of the accentual pattern, beginning on an accented beat. Measures are seperated by bar lines

Time (Meter) Signatures
A Time Signature comprises two numbers that directly supply two important pieces of information.
  1. The number of basic durational units (or their equivalent) that occur within a measure. HOW MANY BEATS ARE IN ONE (1) MEASURE.
  2. The note value used as the basic duration unit - the pulse (this is not necessarily the beat). WHAT KIND OF NOTE GETS ONE (1) BEAT.

    4 four (4) beats per measure
    4 the quarter note gets the beat

    Duple, Triple, and Quadruple Meters
    The terms duple, triple, and quadruple refer to meters in which the pulses are grouped into ,measues of two, three, or four beats.

    Duple 2 Triple 3 Quadruple 4
    4 4 4

    Simple and Compound Meters
    The terms simple and compound refer to meters in which beats are divided into two and three parts respectively.

    Simple Meter
    A meter with the upper number of 2, 3, or 4, is simple.

    Compound Meters
    A meter with the upper number that is multiple of three - that is 6, 9, 12, and so on - is a compound.

    Comples Meters
    A meter that is asymmetric is one in which the numbers of pulses in the measure is not 2 or 3 of multiples of these values. We call these complex Meters.

    When we analyze time signatures, we break them down using both of the descriptions above. We first determine if a meter is:
    1. simple, compound, or complex.
    2. duple, triple, or quadruple (except in complex meters)

      Examples of complex meter:
      5 7 15
      4 8 4

      Syncopation is the shift in accentutation to a normally unaccented portion of the beat or measure. A very common means of accentuation is through duration. In 4/4 meter, the first and third beats are normally stronger than the second and forth beats.






      Dynamics are the markings that indicate relative levels of loudness.

      Articulation markings indicate the manner in whih a musical tome is begun (attacked) or ended(released). Two of tje most common terms are:
      Legato: a smooth , connnected style in which one tone leads to another with little or no break in the sound and without strong attacks.

      Staccato: a short, detatched style in which a perceptible break occurs between pitches. Staccato may be indicated by dots placed above or below the noteheads.

      Legato: a smooth, connected style in which one tone leads to another with little or no break in the sound and with =out strong attacks. Legato may be indicated by a slur-a curved line placed above or below the notes:
      Staccato: a short, detatched style in which a perceptible break occurs between pitches. Staccato may be indicated by dots placed above or below the noteheads:

      Accent marks are also used to indicate differnt types of articulation. Two common symbols are:

      accent a forceful attack followed by an immediate lowering of the dynamic level

      marcato similar to the accent but with a more pronounced separation between the tones. © 2005 Danielle Cacace all sources from Mr. Odell