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Learning To Read Music Tutorial 1
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Essentially rhythmic notation is a matter of fractions. All the symbols represent divisions of smaller or larger relative lengths. The largest value is the whole note, which gets 4 counts (1, 2, 3, 4). Then we divide it into two equal halves and get, appropriately, half notes, which get 2 counts (1, 2). Here are the divisions:
Whole note: a whole measure of 4 beats or 4 counts
Half note: a half of a measure of 4 beats or 2 counts
Quarter note: a quarter of a measure of 4 beats or 1 count
Eighth note: an eighth of a measure of 4 beats or 1/2 of a count
Sixteenth note: a sixteenth of a measure of 4 beats or 1/4 of a count
Thirty-second note: a thirty-second of a measure of 4 beats or 1/8 of a count
And so on. We can keep on subdividing the beat forever, but they really have no practical application probably past 1/128th notes. Rarely will you see anything smaller than 1/16th notes. Here's an image to illustrate these rhythmic divisions and how their symbols look.
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