Where's the Beat? (Part One)


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I was reading an article in one of my 2010 Jazz magazines called, "Where's the beat?" written by Paxton Girtmon. There's so much to learn in this dynamite, knock-out lesson but I thought I would share some valuable snippets with you, so we can learn together.

"The term 'meter' can be defined as a repetitive pattern of strong and weak beats in an arranged rhythm. This does not imply that the rhythms themselves are necessarily repetitive, but a repeated pattern of pulses or beats is clearly evident. Duple meter in the music will feel like "strong/weak/strong/weak." Triple meter in the music will feel like "strong/weak/weak," and quadruple will feel like "strong/weak/weak/weak."

Paxton Girtmon teaches middle school musicians to recognize different meters, remembering to emphasize that the beats and subdivisions are all equal and even. He found that students tend to rush the upper beat or the "&" of the count. He goes on to say... "Remember to emphasize to the student that the numbers (1, 2, 3, and 4) always come on a pulse or the strongest part of the beat."

Identifying Various Meters

"Simple and compound are the two main categories of meters. In a simple meter, each beat is basically divided into two parts 1&, and the quarter note should be constant. In compound meters, each beat is divided into three parts, 1&a, and the eighth-note should be constant.

                                                       Constant Note Value
                                                Quarter Note                   Eighth Note

Two beats per measure               Simple duple             Compound duple
Three beats per measure            Simple triple              Compound triple
Four beats per measure              Simple quadruple      Compound quadruple

The table below illustrates the most-used symmetrical meters.

Symmetrical Meters
Meter                           Beats/Pulses       Time Signature
Duple Simple           (1&)(2&)                2/4
Triple Simple          (1&)(2&)(3&)         3/4
Quadruple Simple (1&)(2&)(3&)(4&)  4/4
Duple Compound  (1&a)(2&a)               6/8
Triple Compound (1&a)(2&a)(3&a)      9/8
Quadruple Compound (1&a)(2&a)(3&a)(4&a) 12/8 

I hope you like the information on mulit-metered music. Part two is coming.

One music resource in my library that you may be interested in, Jazz101



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