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I’ve got Rhythm!

February – the month of love…

"I've got rhythm, I've got music, I've got sunshine..."

…and I thought ‘hang on a string-pickin’ minute – what better way to celebrate than with a whole month’s worth of music as a language (of love)?’

SO far we have looked Music as a Language, Oral and Written Tradition of Music and the Dots and Dashes of Music shorthand.

And sadly its our last week looking at these two pillars of language and music, but before you get too sad, we are looking at rhythm this week, and even if we can’t spell it (I just had to check as it went all ‘funny’ on me!)- we’ve all heard a foot-tapping song or two in our time, haven’t we?

Time and rhythm in music language

Rhythm is the name of the game. Well actually, it’s not. It IS the game.

Because what have we got if we ain’t got rhythm? (There’s a song in there somewhere…)

So, we have the staves and the dots and dashes… Following?

Now let’s talk about graphs (bear with… here comes the science bit). Imagine that a stave is like a graph with pitch on the Y axis and time on the X axis (check out the page image above!). In this graph, as time moves along it tells you what pitch to play a note (A, B♭, C# etc)

However, as I mentioned earlier, we have to be inventive as we have SOOOOOO much more information to impart within our ‘graph’. And as we read from left to right, time ticks. both on our graph and in real time. Convenient. Think of this ticking as the heartbeat of the music. It drives it. It gives it its feel and character – imagine a march as opposed to a waltz.

But we also need to work out how to tell our musicians how LONG the notes they are playing are to be. Do you hold that G# for 1 beat or 4? Should that A be really short to express anger perhaps? Or a looooooooonnng drawn out note expressing pain or sorrow?


Time names of notes

Well that story is told by the shape and fill of the dots on the staves, or ‘time names’ as posher people than me call them! We have four basic time notations , each with its own ‘time name’ and each with its own ‘time value’, which is how many ‘heartbeats’ of a song they are worth.

Music stave with a semibreve and minim shown and labelled

In the UK we call them Semibreves (worth 4 beats), Minim (worth 2 beats), Crotchets (worth 1 heartbeat) and Quavers (worth 1/2 beat). In the US these are called respectively, Whole Notes, Half Notes, Quarter Notes and Eighth Notes.

Music stave with a Crotchet and Quaver shown and labelled

So! That’s it! February is nearly over, as is our whistle stop tour of Music Language. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride and have learnt a little more, or consolidated your own knowledge on music as a language, or what other people like to call ‘music theory’.

Next month is World Speech Day and in celebration we are looking at the Sounds of Speech, but before that, don’t forget to take advantage of our 15% Music Language Lessons and start building on what we have been talking about. See you then!

15% off Music Language Lessons all throughout February!

And as Music is the language of love it follows that this month we should focus on music as a language.

SO have 15% off your Music Language (theory) Lessons in February….

To book now, select a 1-hour slot for your personalised, one-to-one, online lesson.

Lesson Need-to-Knows:

  • Choose to have your lesson on Zoom, Skype or Google Meet during booking process.
  • Links will be emailed to you latest the day before the lesson.
  • Please login to the call 5 minutes before the lesson start time (and have a glass of water with you!)
  • Headphones are not necessary but can sometimes help with background noise.
  • Payment required at time of booking. 
  • Suitable for age 10+

Let’s get your singing sizzling!

Hannah x