Using different note lengths, rests, accents, time signatures, and tempos, you can create infinite possible rhythms. If this seems exciting to you, then you should keep exploring these possibilities. If this seems daunting to you, remember that you’re not looking for an infinite number of rhythms, you’re looking for the ones you want to play. The way to find what you want to play is to pay attention to what you like listening to. You may notice that most of your favourite songs use very simple rhythms. You may notice that you like songs that use triplets. The music you enjoy can give you clues about which rhythms you should spend more time practicing.
Before showing you these rhythmic ideas, I have to tell you about ties. When you tie two quarter notes together, it sounds the same as a half note. This is useful if you want to play a half note starting on the last beat of the bar. You would hold the note for the last beat of one bar, and the first beat of the next bar. Since the bar line marks beat one, the half note is written as two quarter note tied together, with the bar line in between. Ties can be used on any note.
A Bunch of Ideas
Now that you know the building blocks of rhythm, let’s look at some examples of how note lengths, rests, accents, time signatures, and tempos are used in the creation of music.
Most likely, some of these rhythms would have been easy for you to play before you learned about the building blocks. But now that you know the building blocks, I hope that you will see these rhythms in a new way and use that knowledge to go beyond what you could have played before. Try to play these examples without listening to them first. Play each line of rhythm four times in a row without making a mistake before moving on to the next one.