Part 10 Mixing notes, ties and rests
This month Charlie Griffiths combines all the elements he’s looked at in previous lessons into four cohesive musical pieces for you to study.
challenge. these are not intended to be particularly great pieces of music, but are simply designed to contain all of the practise elements you will require to hone your reading skills efficiently.
Our first example combines notes and rests divisible by two; half, quarter and eighthnotes. If you prefer the British terminology, these same become ‘minims’, ‘crotchets’ and ‘quavers’. as the name suggests, half-notes are worth exactly half a bar of 4/4. Dividing those into two produces ‘quarter-notes’ which are equivalent to our usual perception of the tempo of a piece and the rate at which we count ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ along with a piece of music.
Brought to you by... By dividing these in two, we get eighth-notes. eighth-notes take up exactly half the time as quarter-notes and they can be counted as ‘1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &’.
the second exercise features eighth-note and quarter-note triplets which are indicated by a bracket across three notes, with the number ‘3’ placed in the middle. this bracket essentially means that you need to squeeze three equal notes into the space where there are usually two. three eighth-note triplets take up the same time as two non-bracketed eighth-note triplets. eighth-note triplets are counted: 1 & a, 2 & a, 3 & a, 4 & a.
the third example is based on 16th-notes, which are also known as semi-quavers. this subdivision is divisible by two, and last for half the time as eighth-notes to provide sixteen even notes per bar. these 16 notes can be counted phonetically: ‘1 e & a, 2 e & a, 3 e & a, 4 e & a’. Counting like this is essential when reading syncopated rhythms with notes that land on the off-beats.
example four combines all of these note values within eight bars, making for a lot of counting in a short space of time. In addition to the actual notes, there are two common ornamentations; trills and acciaccaturas. a trill is a fast alternation between the written note and the next diatonic note in the key; usually played with hammer-ons and pull-offs. acciaccatura is the term for grace note and is essentially a note of almost no value, placed before the note to be played.
all four of the exercises contain dots and ties which are both methods for extending the length of a note. Notes can be ‘tied’ together with a curved line to either sustain a note cross the bar-line, or to cross the centre of the bar. a small dot placed after a note extends its value value by an additional 50%; for example a dotted quarter-note is equivalent to a quarter-note, plus an eighth-note.
have a go at practising these examples along with the backing tracks we have supplied. If the 80bpm tempo is too fast at first, feel free to use a metronome or drum machine at a slower tempo.
Acciaccatura, or ‘grace note’, is a note of almost no value, placed before the note to be played.
Music reading is one of the most important skills we can acquire