View Full Version : Rhythm, Time Signatures

12-07-2002, 10:39 PM
Greetings everyone. This is my first post here. I'm looking to improve my sense of rhythm and understanding of time signatures. Does anyone know of any books or websites that would contain reading exercizes. Like different rhythems and time signatures and stuff. And how to count them and all. I couldn't find any articles or threads about this. If I missed them just let me know. Thanks in advance. Peace!:)

12-08-2002, 01:48 AM
Berklee Rhythm Section Studies.

12-08-2002, 03:39 PM
yep, I also recommend that one BUT isn't it ot of print?


12-08-2002, 03:51 PM
I don't know I bought mine 20 years ago.

12-08-2002, 03:56 PM
:D Well, if it's still available Rob must be able to find it at the Berklee Press (http://www.berkleepress.com) site.


12-08-2002, 05:01 PM
yea, it seems to be out of print. I can't find it anywhere. :(

12-11-2002, 01:24 AM
Does anyone have anymore recommendations ?

12-11-2002, 01:35 AM
The Buddy Rich Modern Drum Method

The Mechanix
12-11-2002, 04:18 PM
Hi RobA,

The book recommended at the Guitar Institute in London for rhythm excercises is called "Modern Reading Text in 4/4 by Louis Bellson & Gil Breines". I believe it's also a standard text for the guys in DrumTech aswell.

It doesn't go into how to actually count the excercises in alot of detail from what I remember, it's kind of like a compilation of pieces, each one illustrating a different rhythm, or variation on a rhythm. It's massively comprehensive, someone told me that the rhythms were mathematically calculated to demonstrate every possible combination!!!

There's another book in odd time, if that's your bag...

There's a short review of it here


C Ya

12-11-2002, 07:49 PM
Thanks for the recommendations:) . I'll check them out

12-11-2002, 10:31 PM
Hi Rob,

also try musictheory.net

Bongo Boy
12-12-2002, 04:50 AM
Originally posted by RobA
Greetings everyone. This is my first post here. I'm looking to improve my sense of rhythm and understanding of time signatures.I thought I'd let this thread run a while before asking my little question, but now it's time. I don't get the question, exactly.

'Sense of rhythm' is kind of a difficult thing to get from a book, isn't it? I'd actually go so far as to say, impossible, and that it has nothing to do with any cerebral exercise. Try to define what you mean by 'sense of rhythm'. I'll bet that's a big thread in itself.

Offhand, I'd say the best way to develop a sense of rhythm is to dance. Move yo body.

Time signatures on the other hand--an almost unrelated thing? What is it that there is to understand? I'm not trying to trivialize your question--I really don't know what the issue is. there aren't all that many commonly used. But on the other hand, if someone were to ask me the difference between 3/4 and 6/8--I couldn't really describe it in words.

But, as dumb as it seems to say, I don't get the real connection between time signatures and a sense of rhythm. It's almost like the connection between being in the groove and keeping time. Not sure it's all that explainable.

Can you describe the problem you're trying to solve? Bongo always makes so much more of things than there is.

12-14-2002, 05:39 PM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
Can you describe the problem you're trying to solve?

Well... what I'm looking for is a book that has a number of different complex rhythmic exercises. I would read the exercises and then play them on my guitar along with a metronome. I wouldn't just simply be reading a book.

What do I mean by sense of rhythm? Hmm, good question. Well what i want to improve basically is my ability to play things that are rhythmicly whacked out. I want to be able to write songs in odd time signatures and be able to write it down in notation. This would require knowing all the note values. I also want to be able to look at a piece of music and be able to play the correct rhythm. By looking at the time signature and figuring out all the note values. And to be able to count it.

I'm not really talking about stuff in 4/4 time or 3/4 or 6/8 or any other common time signatures, which I understand and they don't really give me a problem. When you get into complex rhythms/timings is can be really hard to "feel" them. It can be really hard and whacked out to move or dance to them. Its not your straight forward 4/4 type stuff. I don't just want to be able to feel them but to be able to understand them. To be able to write it down on paper. And be like hey this note is a 16th note this one is a dotted 8th, uh it changed time signatures here and so on. I have a limited ability to do this. I was just looking for somthing that would help me improve in this area.

I hope all that made some sense and answered your questions. :)

Bongo Boy
12-14-2002, 08:20 PM
Okay--I understand. I'm having the same problem with so-called Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Even the very simplest are hard for me to get. I bought a pedal and a jam-block so I could do a clave beat with my foot while playing a standard tumbao rhythm on the conga.

Try as I may, still cannot do it. WHat you need, I think, is a multi-media tutorial with exercises. One option might be a percussion book combined with an appropriate MIDI driver, and something like PowerTab. PowerTab without the TAB would be good. My goodness there HAS to be some software out there that does this (how about Cakewalk)?

12-14-2002, 09:02 PM
You are going to have better luck with drum method books for this than you are with any type of guitar book. I suggest a drum and bugle corp book. I don't really think it is that difficult to play in odd meters when you have the basics down, so I wouldn't specifically seek that out until I worked my way through a drum method book or bugle corp book.

12-16-2002, 05:26 PM
Originally posted by The Mechanix
The book recommended at the Guitar Institute in London for rhythm excercises is called "Modern Reading Text in 4/4 by Louis Bellson & Gil Breines". I believe it's also a standard text for the guys in DrumTech aswell.I worked through this book. It's great for getting familiar with all standard and not so standard variations in most common meters.

Me too, I think that once you master common time signatures it's not all that difficult to move on to odd meters, as they are always subdivided by common ones.

Say, 5/4 can be split up into 2/4 + 3/4 or 3/4 and 2/4.

7/4: 4+3 or 3+4

This sounds quite interesting: Drummer's Guide to Odd Meters (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0634001043/guitar4u)

Anyone who knows this book?


12-17-2002, 05:09 AM
I am going to reiterate a previous comment.
There are two kinds of meter Duple and Triple, all meters can be reduced to combinations of one or both of these. It is as elementary as even and odd numbers and analogous.
Learn 2/4 time and 3/4 time. Everyting else is just some linear combination of these.

Bongo Boy
12-17-2002, 05:34 AM
Some folks may not be familiar with the defintion of 'linear combination'. A 'linear combination' of things is the sum of those things, but with each multiplied by some constant (which could be any number, including 0).

A 'linear combination' of x and y, then is some number z, where

z = ax + by, where a and b are whatever numbers you choose.

So, when James says all meters are a linear combination of 2/4 and 3/4. it means that any meter is the sum of some number 'a' times 2/4, plus some other number 'b' times 3/4.

For example, 3/4 is:

3/4 = 0*(2/4) + 1*(3/4), and 2/4 is

2/4 = 1*(2/4) + 0*(3/4). Those two are the 'no-brainer' examples.

Common (4/4) time would be

4/4 = 2*(2/4) + 0*(3/4)

Now, 5/8 time, on the other hand, would be

5/8 = (1/2)*(2/4) + (1/2)*(3/4)

But, I'm not sure how this would help anyone 'get' 5/8 time, since I have no idea what the right side of the equation means in terms of anything musical. In this case it might be easier to think of your duple as 2/8 and your triple as 3/8--which isn't much of a stretch. Then:

5/8 = 1*(2/8) + 1*(3/8), and your brain can manage that--although I have to say simply thinking "5 beats per measure" would be one helluva lot easier.

12-17-2002, 05:51 AM
5/8 = (1/2)*(2/4) + (1/2)*(3/4)

It means:

5/8 = 2/8 + 3/8

12-18-2002, 10:43 AM
This must be the seventh or eighth time I've checked out this thread. I never did understand it.
Specificlly page 2.

I read it again and 'click'.

Does anyone use 5/8 time?
Anyone know a song with it?
I can't imagine it. Even where to begin playing it.
Like most, I've been in the 4/4 and 3/4 times.

Yet more to learn....

12-18-2002, 11:23 AM
The Jazz Classic 'Take 5' is in 5/4, 'Money' by Pink Floyd is in 7/4.

12-18-2002, 11:59 AM
'Seven Days' by Sting is in 5/4.
I posted this one here: http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=455

06-09-2004, 11:58 PM
I think that the easiest way to get someone to understand this would be the way that I've been doing it all in my head as I'm reading this.
I may still be wrong, but I didn't understand 5/4 or 7/4 at all until I read this, and I think I've got it now.

It's easier if you think about how drums would fit into it.

4/4 is usually counted |1-2-3-4|1-2-3-4|
or people will think of the bass drum (boom) and snare (tat)
as in |boom-tat-boom-tat|boom-tat-boom-tat|
3/4 is counted as |1-2-3|1-2-3| or |boom-tat-tat|boom-tat-tat|

Now, like I said, I didn't understand 5/4 before I read this, but from what I got from this, I think it's either 2/4 + 3/4 or 3/4 + 2/4 so...
|1-2-3-4-5|1-2-3-4-5| - |boom-tat-boom-tat-tat|boom-tat-boom-tat-tat|
|1-2-3-4-5|1-2-3-4-5| - |boom-tat-tat-boom-tat|boom-tat-tat-boom-tat|

... or maybe I'm just an idiot...:confused: