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Elements of Music Notation : Rhythm
by Elaine Ernst Schneider and Joanne Mikola
April 4, 2001

Beat Standard of measurement in musical time. One beat lasts until the next one begins.

Meter Basic grouping of beats

Rhythm Pattern of longer and shorter note values used. Note: One note cannot have a rhythm. It takes two to create a pattern.

Time Signature  Two numbers at the beginning of the staff; top number telling how many beats per measure. The bottom number tells which kind of note gets one beat.
 The top number tells that there are 2 beats in a measure
  Bottom number says the quarter note gets one beat.

  Here there are four beats in a measure
  The quarter note, again counts as a single beat

 There will be six beats in a measure
  One eighth note = 1 beat

Key Signature Denotes the number of sharps and flats. These tell what key the music is in.

Order of Use The clef always appears first, followed by the key signature. These are repeated on every staff. The time signature only appears at the beginning of the song, unless there is a time change.

In order: treble clef, one flat. and 4/4 time. 
bass clef, one flat, and 4/4 time


In order: treble clef, three flats, and 2/4 time. 
bass clef, three flats, and 2/4 time

Assignment : Rhythm Worksheet 

Continue on to Miscellaneous Notes for Music Notation
Click here for a printable copy of  blank sheet music.
Submitted by:  © Elaine Ernst Schneider  is a freelance writer and a teacher. She has been writing since high school and has published articles, songs, and children's work. Presently, Elaine is a curriculum author for Group Publishing and also writes the City Songs column for ezine. 
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