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Learning to Read Music 1: Lesson 2


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Learning To Read Music Tutorial 1

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Music notation shows what notes to play by placing a dot on a line or space of the staff. In order to know when to play those notes & for how long we have to learn the musical notation symbols for rhythm. Because we will use tablature along with standard notation the hardest part to learning to read music will be the rhythms. So let's start with rhythmic notation, how to "subdivide the beat".

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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lesson notation