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(#1) Unit 1: Fundamentals of Music
Transcript of (#1) Unit 1: Fundamentals of Music
Beats provide the basic unit of measurement for time in music. If ordinary clock time is measured in seconds, musical time is measured in beats.
The beat, also called the pulse, is the heartbeat of music.
Whether you're listening to a rock band or a marching band, you will sense regular, recurring short pulses underneath more complicated rhythms.
Meter is a background of stressed and unstressed beats in a simple, regular repeating pattern.
Another way of obtaining an interesting, striking effect in music is to move the accent away from the beat. This is called syncopation.
So, as of yet, we have been discussing sound in relation to itself. Some things are twice as fast as other things, some things are three times as fast, and so on. Tempo, however, is an absolute way of measuring sound.
Tempo is the rate at which beats follow each other, or how many of them there are in a minute.
The most absolute way of expressing tempo is with a metronome, which measures "beats per minute," or "bpm." Some composers use this method of expression.
Most composers, however, use approximate terms, which allows for more expression on the part of the performer.
Find the meters of these different songs
Rhythm can be general or specific.
When you're listening to a song, it has a general rhythm of going that consists of pulses of notes of different durations. This rhythm is sometimes called the "groove" of the song, it's that series of beats that make you want to dance.
Amid the general rhythm of the song, you can refer to specific rhythms.
A Note About Listening
Repeated listening is often the key to understanding music. Listening to something once does not allow you to understand it well, which in turn, does not allow you to appreciate it. In the beginning of this course, we will teach you the different elements that make up music and how to listen to them.
Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo
By teaching you how to listen, we allow
you to better understand all types of music,
which better allows you to evaluate and appreciate the music you listen to.
The first building block we'll focus on is Rhythm. What is rhythm?
While beats are generally evenly spaced, some
of them are stronger than others. A beat that is stronger than the surrounding beat is called an "accent." Accents allow us to group music into reoccurring patterns.
Most music is grouped with every two beats accented,
or with every three. When accented groups or patterns of notes repeat, we get meter.
Music grouped in two beats is known as duple meter. (Battle Hymn of the Republic)
Music grouped in three beats is known as triple meter.
(Star Spangled Banner)
The beats themselves can also be divided into groups of twos or threes.
When a beat is divided into 2, this is known as simple meter. (Stars and Stripes Forever)
When it's divided into 3, this is known as compound meter
(Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
So, you can have.....
Duple simple meter (2 beats that can each be divided in 2)
Triple simple meter (3 beats that can each be divided in 2)
Duple compound meter (2 beats that can be divided in 3)
Triple compound meter (3 beats that can be divided in 3)
These were very clear examples of meter and rhythm. Not every example is so clean. Sometimes meter is asymmetrical, consisting of short (simple) and long (compound) beats. A good example of this is Astor Piazzolla's "Libertango"
Sometimes it is the composer's intent to mask, or hide the rhythm, such as in the case of Gregorian chant.
Pink Floyd "Money"
"Kyrie Eleison" Chant
Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" (1972)
These terms, which are listed in Italian, include
andante- on the slow side, but generally interpreted as "walking tempo"
allegretto- fast, but not too fast
presto- very fast
prestissimo- like, seriously fast
vivace- lively, and also fast.
"Star Spangled Banner" has recurring patterns of three.
The Trio section from "The Star Spangled Banner" has recurring patterns of two.
What about this song?
Sheppard's "Geronimo" (2014)
The Beatles "A Taste of Honey"
Dave Brubeck Quartet "Blue Rondo a la Turk"
"America" from West Side Story
Rhythm does NOT refer to melody! All melodies have rhythm, but not all rhythms have melody. Melody is something you get when you add rhythms and pitches together.
The beat is usually very steady and not too fast or to slow. It's usually something you can comfortably dance to.
"Rhythm is something you either have or you don't have, but when you have it, you have it all over." -Elvis Presley