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Thread: Rhythm fluency/ reading fragmented rhythm - 16ths 32nds etc

  1. #1
    Tom Mr_T's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    London, UK

    Rhythm fluency/ reading fragmented rhythm - 16ths 32nds etc


    Has anyone else reached a stage where you can read simple rhythms - the kind of thing used to demonstrate quavers, crotchet, triplet rhythms - but found you're 'bumping into walls' with trying to move onto anything more complex?

    I guess the question I'd like to ask fluent readers is: 'what basic unit do you use to internally count when the beat is divided into 8ths, 16ths, 32nds?'

    I ask because thinking about it it seems to me when reading you either need to divide (e.g. 1.. and.. two.. and --- where each unit is split into '1' + 'and') or add (e.g. in 4/4 with dotted rhythm I take 8ths as my 'basic unit' counting '1,2,3' to measure each dotted crotchet).

    Hope that's clear!? Any tricks or technique for reading more fragmented rhythm would be great!


  2. #2
    Matt mateorama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    South Carolina
    When it comes to the business of reading standard notation off of a page, most people break up the beat into subdivisions like this in 4/4 time:

    quarters: 1 2 3 4 1

    eighths: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1
    (think to yourself: one and two and...)

    triplets: 1 trip let 2 trip let 3 trip let 4 trip let 1
    (one trip let two trip let... this one is a little trickier at first, but it comes fast)

    sixteenths: 1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a 1
    ( 1 ee and ah 2 ee and ah... eighth notes imposed on themselves)

    I don't commonly deal with 32nds or stranger things, but there are a couple very helpful things to remember:

    1) the syllables between the numbers are entirely arbitrary- It doesn't matter what they are as long as there are the right number of them.
    2) try to only use numbers for their designated downbeats.
    3) you don't always have to consciously count things unless you are learning them, but it may significantly help your rhythmic sense to think about the way different things are counted that you already know.

  3. #3
    Registered User Joe Pass Jr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Kaki Kings Shorts
    Simply Put. If your having an issue reading something your possibly not ready to be reading that complexity of music. So back down a bit and keep working at something a bit less complicated. This is of course if your goal is to literally sight read at this pace.

    I am a student of music and have to read every day and even I need to sit down and work things out at times. So unless its imperative, don't be afraid to stop and just think about the music your looking at. If it is full of 16th or even 32nd beats you can sometimes even divide the bars in half. Play it in half time and really get a feel for it.

    Reading is a discipline and an art. Treat it as such. Take your time, use your hands and feet to get the rhythm's in your head before you try and play it. This is probably the best advice I can give actually. It pays tremendously if you have the chance to tap the rhythms on your leg for the 5 min's before the band is ready to start. This way you already have an idea of where the feel is headed, from there you only need to focus on playing the right notes.
    Its not the techniques you use, but the music you make.

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