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Elements of Music

12 13 BasIc rhythMs meter and the big beat Rhythm is the component of music that punctuates time, carrying us from one beat to the next, and it subdivides into simple ratios just like pitch. Even in seemingly complex rhythms an underlying structure based on groupings of divisions into 2 and 3 is often perceptible. The march and the waltz are thus nodes in the subdivision of rhythm, and the tensions created by polyrhythms and syncopation push and pull against the gravity of these nodes, just as individual musical notes do in a scale. All of this happens through time, creating a framework of epigrams, disclosing their plight or journey, existing within a system of rules. Rhythmic structures are organised into measures for the purpose of notation, which denote time parceled into groups of beats. In 44, each measure has four beats marked by quarter notes, which often show up in groups of four measures. Within most rhythms a pulse of strong and weak beats, or strong and weak parts of beats, also exists, and chords are placed in each measure at either the anacrusis or the ictus, between or upon the beats, to convey harmonic movement and reinforce the sense of tonality. The unfolding and varying of the resulting tensions and releases through time is responsible for much of the emotive and expressive power of rhythm. The rate at which events pass is also a crucial component of any rhythmic texture, often measured by beats per minute bpm. A pulses subdivisions are partly meaningless without knowing its rate or tempo. bpm 40 largo 60 adagio 76 andante 108 moderato 120 allegro 168 presto 200 Above The basic duple subdivisions of the beat as notes left and rests right. The values are, from top to bottom, whole, half, quarter, eighth, and sixteenth. This process can continue up to onehundredtwentyeighth notes. The rest occupies the same potential space as a note does, and provides breath and space, helping to clarify different parts. Musical styles are often expressed by their rhythmic patterns, and the grouping and subgrouping of their component strong and weak beats. Shown here are some of the most basic ones, built upon 2 and 3, simple and compound. In a time signature, the numerator indicates the number of beats per measure, and the denominator indicates which subdivision will receive the beat. The measure, or bar, separated by lines, indicates a rhythmic cell, one repetition of the basic grouping or cycle. The poetic feet measure all the possible combinations of long and short in duple and triple groupings, twelve total. Triples Tribrach Dactyl Amphibrach Anapest Bacchius Antibacchius Amphimacer Molossus Duples Iamb Trochee Spondee Dibrach march waltz rock gigue High Low
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