Time Signature

Time Signature

What is a Time Signature? All music is divided into measures, or short units that contain a set number of or “counts,” and Example You’ve probably heard musicians counting off 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, in which case the set of four beats is a single measure. This “measure” structure is the backbone for the song’s rhythm. But not all measures are the same! While most have four beats, they can have any numb... »

Types of Beats

Types of Beats

Down-beat: Beats have two components – the down-beat and the up-beat. The down-beat is best understood by clapping your hands along with a song. You are clapping the down-beats. Up-beat: An up-beat is the part of the rhythm that occurs in between the down beats. When clapping along with music, an upbeat is timed with when you pull your hands away from each other. Stressed beat: The beat that is gi... »

Beat

Beat

What is a Beat? In music, the beat is the basic unit of time. It’s a way that musicians count the notes being played to stay in synch with each other, and is often associated with the pulse that listeners tend to feel in the music. That is to say, when one is to clap along or dance with the music, they are moving to the beat. Songs are made up of three basic components: harmony, melody, and beat. ... »

Tempo

What is Tempo? Tempo is the pace or speed of the music. Higher tempo means a faster song, whereas a lower tempo means a slower song. Tempo is flexible in classical music — many pieces have parts that speed up or slow down expressively, which is known as rubato. This is much less common in popular music, which usually has a “fundamental pulse” that stays at the same tempo throughout the song. Some ... »

Reading a Song

Reading a Song

Once you’re familiar with the basics of reading a score, the best way to learn is to practice. You can start with this simple line from a nursery rhyme. Imagine that you were looking at the score for a full orchestral arrangement of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep.’ You look down the different parts, find your instrument, and see this staff written out for you: Using all the tools from this lesson on score, ... »

Score

Score

What is a Score? The word ‘score’ is used in a lot of different ways in music. In the broadest sense, it can mean any kind of sheet music – these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. More narrowly, it can describe the ‘full score,’ or a single musical document that contains all the different parts for an orchestral performance. A score is usually used for a more formal, coordinated piece, lik... »

How are chords constructed?

In a simple sense, chords are constructed by combining every other note in a music scale. For example, the C major scale looks like this: C – D – E – F – G – A – B All basic major chords have three notes, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes in the scale with that chord’s name.  In other words, the C major chord, based on the scale above, is just C, E, and G.  This is known as a triad, which is the most ba... »

Are chords important?

Chords provide harmony, and usually rhythm, that both support the melody and also contribute their own dimension to music. Chords normally express the feeling of the music and the changes in feeling that form the overall arc of a piece of music.  Certain chords are usually pleasing, disturbing, happy, or sad, but their feelings also depend on their context; one chord can sound very different in di... »

Chords

What is a Chord? A chord is a combination of three or more notes played together at the same time.  A basic chord has three notes. Complex chords have 4 or 5 different notes; beyond that, larger chords usually use some of the same notes more than once, in multiple octaves (because much more than five different notes in a chord becomes too much for the human brain to hear meaningfully). Chords are ... »