In the last issue we looked at counting quarter-notes, eighth-notes and rests as well as introducing dotted notes and ties. We saw that quarter-notes are shown as a black dot with a vertical stem on one side and eighth notes are the same, but have a flag on the end of the stem; they can also be beamed together with a horizontal line connecting a maximum of four notes together.
This month we will introduce 16th notes, which are also known as semiquavers as they last half the time as a quaver or eighth note. To summarise: a bar of 4/4 contains four quarter-notes, which can be subdivided into eight eighth-notes, which in turn can be divided into sixteen 16th-notes.
Sixteenth notes can be counted phonetically: ‘1 e & a, 2 e & a, 3 e & a, 4 e & a’. Notice that the numbers ‘1 2 3 4’ and the ‘&’ are the eighth-notes and the ‘e’ and ‘a’ letters are 16th-notes in between. Example 1 switches between quarter, eighth and 16th-notes so you can compare them to each other and get their rhythm in your head.
A single 16th-note looks much like an eighth-note, except it has two curly flags attached to the end of the stem. When two, three or four eighth-notes are next to each other, they are beamed together with two this is a clearer way of showing notes going across the beat, but still keeps the bar organised logically.
Dots are another way of extending the value of a note. Placing a small dot after the note increases the value by an additional 50%. Dotted 8th notes are the same value as an 8th-note plus a 16th; these are ‘glued’ together as one, with an accompanying 16th note to follow as seen in Example 3.
The following rhythmic examples use a combination of 16th notes, rests, ties and dots. The exercises are all played on the note B, which, although monotonous, will enable you to concentrate fully on reading the rhythmic information without thinking about changing notes - don’t worry, we’ll combine these two skills in a future issue. Use a metronome or a drum machine to ensure that the examples are played at a consistent tempo and feel free to increase or decrease the suggested 60bpm to suit your current reading level. As with all the lessons in GT, learning slowly and accurately is far better than charging through like a bull in a china shop. Reading speed will come naturally enough, so be patient.