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Rhythm - what does it say?

As human beings, we rely on verbal and non-verbal communication to express ideas, opinions, thoughts, and emotions. These facets of expression can be used in various forms of storytelling to capture the attention of the reader from multiple point of views. Creating the ideal conversation for different audiences requires a keen understanding of cultural societies. The gateway to embracing different cultures can be defined by one simple word, rhythm.

Oftentimes, when someone hears the word rhythm, they immediately think of music. However, what if rhythm was defined within a broader scope? How many more people would understand musical rhythms in ways they couldn’t imagine? The concept of rhythm can be applied to a conversation, playing a sport, developing a new habit, or even adapting to a new environment. If two people are having a conversation and one person is talking too much or the other is talking too fast, there is no flow (or rhythm) to their dialogue. If a basketball team is down 5 points with 30 seconds left to go in the 4th quarter, as a team, they must move and defend cohesively in order to pressure the ball for a turnover to create quick chances to score. What about if you want to wake-up and make your bed every day before school or work? Developing that habit requires the rhythm of doing that task at the same time every day.

When discussing the concept of rhythm within music, I generally advise people to think of their heartbeat or pulse. Naturally, music is created and performed with extreme pathos. Therefore, rhythm must be something you feel first, before you can conceptualize it in your brain. My theory is that, if you can feel your heartbeat, then you can feel the rhythm of any musical genre.

Some basic elements of rhythmic notation that you will find on any musical score are rests and notes (quarter, eighth, half, whole, etc.). The combination of rests and notes will clearly define what genre of music you’re playing. One of the most important tools for understanding any rhythm is the time signature. This will tell you how many beats are in each measure, and also each note/rest value (how long you hold or play each note). A rest is how long the music is silent for in each measure.

Rhythm can be broken down into patterns, beats, and tempos. The beat will tell you the feel, while the rhythm will essentially be what you play. Beat and rhythm are confined to the parameters of the tempo, which tells you how fast or slow the music will be. Since music is a language, we can define rhythm as “what you say”.

If you’re interested in understanding the basics of rhythm, watch the video below for an awesome tutorial!

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