• Andrew Harrison

“ I could never be a musician because I have no rhythm”

The three main elements of music are Harmony, Melody and Rhythm..

Some people tell me that they have no rhythm because they can’t even tap their feet to music let alone dance and move to the beat. The answer to this is that these people simply haven’t been shown an easy way to understand the music they are listening to.

During our lives we are exposed to rhythm in a variety of ways that aren’t seemingly related to music. One such example of this is a sentence cadence. Otherwise known as punctuation.

Have you ever noticed that when we read, write and speak we must input natural pauses into a sentence in order for us to breathe? Have. You, also-noticedthat whenincorrect s p a c i n g or punctuation’ is used. IT seemstomake everything-much harder/to understand?

These two examples outline my point nicely. In order to make sense of something, we must use cadence to put our ideas across in a sensical manner. You can also think of these sentence cadences as ‘rhythms’ within your given language. For example, have you ever had a conversation with someone who says a tremendous amount of words per second? That person generally is very tricky to understand. You must either work really hard to follow what they are saying OR ask them to repeat themselves. Sometimes even asking them to repeat it in slow motion. This is because they aren’t using the correct verbal ‘rhythms’ we are used to listening to.

In the context of music rhythms play a greater part. As stated above the three main elements of music are: Harmony, Melody and Rhythm. We can actually break this down further, as in order to create both Harmony and Melody you must use notes. So when we deconstruct the elements of music further, we find that the two fundamentals of music are: Notes and Rhythms.

From a grammar perspective rhythm acts as our punctuation and notes act as our letters.

If you were to remove punctuation from a sentence we all know what would happen as shown above. So from a music point of view if we were to remove rhythm, we would end up with a seemingly endless slur of notes with no real purpose.

So do you see that in your everyday life, without even knowing it you are using a form of rhythm and have been since you started to speak?

I still have no idea how to tap my foot along to music! How do I go about doing that?

Well, this bit will take a little practice but once you have the basics down you will be ready to go. The first issue that I have encountered isn’t actually tapping along to the music, it’s understanding what you are listening to that is the problem and the first step to solving the question above.

In the majority of western music there is a ‘Tempo’ or speed of the song which is outlined by a drummer. To go with that, the most commonly used drum beat is something called the ‘Money beat’ it is so named because although drummers are masters when it comes to their craft, most of the time an artist has the stereotypical drum groove in their mind that they want the drummer to play during the session. This groove was coined the Money beat as in most circumstances it would end up being in the final recording and then the drummer would get paid for a session well done. This has changed over time, popular music morphs all the time but drummers still refer to this as the money beat in most cases.

We are going to be breaking down a typical money beat for the purposes of this explanation.

The beat is made up of tree parts, the hi-hat, snare and bass drum.

Generally the high hat is played on beats 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

The snare would be on 2 and 4

The bass drum is on 1 and 3

Example A shows the hi-hat or ‘hats’ playing on each of the beats 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and). Underneath you will hear a sample of this. What I would like you to do is count out loud with the track saying “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”. All will become clear shortly.

Once you are comfortable with that exercise, try clapping on the 1, 2, 3 & 4. Leaving a break in the middle for the sound sample to play the ‘ands’.

Example B is the same as ‘Example A’ with an additional snare drum beats 2 and 4. Continue with the exercise above counting: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + whilst still clapping on the 1, 2, 3 & 4. This should be pretty easy if you were ok with the first example.

Once this is feeling comfortable, check out Example C. This new one is again, the same drum beat as ‘Example B’ with the addition of a bass drum on the 1 and 3. Continue the same exercise by counting 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + to the sound of the hi-hat and clapping on the 1, 2, 3 and 4.

How did that go?

If you followed each step comfortably then you have done it! This is how we tap our foot/clap to music in time with the drums.

Underneath there is one final sample. This is an elongated version with each exercise played two times around, one after another which then carries into a full band scenario to show you how this exercise translates to a practical song setting. (Example C is only played one time around before the song starts)

If you have struggled with any of the above steps, please do not hesitate to contact me for more details.

Happy table drumming!

Ps, If your boss, spouse, parents, friends etc tell you off for drumming along to songs from now on I will deny all responsibility.


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