Recognize the Basics of Rhythm
You may have noticed that certain notes have special shapes. These tell you how many beats you need to hold that note in a measure. A measure is indicated by a vertical line through the staff. The space between vertical staff lines (or a vertical line and the staff beginning or end) equals a single measure. The following basic note rhythms express the main beats in a measure with numbers, same-beat broken rhythms with X’s, and separates beats with plus signs (+).
- Sixteenth note: is held for a quarter of a beat (as in 1-x-x-x+2-x-x-x+3-x-x-x+4-x-x-x | 1-x-x-x…)
- Eighth note (♪): is held for half a beat (as in 1-x+2-x+3-x+4-x | 1-x+2-x…)
- Quarter note (♩): is held for 1 beat (as in 1+2+3+4 | 1+2…)
- Half note: is held for 2 beats (as in 1-2+3-4 | 1-2 + 3-4…)
- Whole note: is held for 4 beats (as in 1-2-3-4 | 1-2-3-4…)