All about Rhythm...
There are many definitions for rhythm but for us it is the breaking down of time into pre-defined patterns which make up a rhythm. Understanding rhythms in music involves a bit of simple maths. A standard bar of music (see our structure section for more on bars) is divided using the rhythm tree which is below.
Quarter Notes (or Crotchets)
When you listen to a song and stamp along with the beat this is called the pulse. The pulse of a song is usually the quarter notes. If you are counting along with a tune (1,2,3,4) then these numbers are the quarter notes that make up a bar.
Eighth Notes (or Quavers)
These are twice as fast as quarter notes. The important thing to note in the rhythm tree above is that eigth notes always contain quarter notes. This is why we often count them as 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +. This way we still say the numbers from the quarter notes above. Understanding the relationship between different “rates” of notes is the most important thing about rhythm.
Sixteenth notes (also known as semi-quavers) are twice as fast as eighth notes and four times as fast quarter notes. The usual way to count these is 1 e + a, 2 e + a (and so on). As with the above, this count contains all previous counts and reinforces the ideas of quarters and eighth being part of the sixteenth note pattern.
Triplets are not shown in the sheet music above but are somewhere between eighth and sixteenth notes. Basically, a triplet is a quarter note divided into three equal parts.