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WebRhythms Lesson 3B

WebRhythms is a series of short articles designed to teach rhythmic reading. Each article includes musical examples that help explain the concepts and an exercise that tests your new reading skills. Along with the written materials, WebRhythms allows you to download and print a copy of each exercise and provides a computer-perfect MIDI performance at a number of different tempi. With all these materials, it’s easy to be creative and challenge yourself while you learn or improve your reading ability.

If you’re a novice at reading music, these articles will start you off by building a solid foundation. Those of you with strong reading skills can use these lessons to brush up and polish what you already know. The later lessons may even show you some new rhythmic ideas and procedures. Monster readers can take the Pro Challenge. Do you have what it takes to keep up?


Now let’s take a look at a group of four sixteenth notes that are beamed together to form a full count. When sixteenths stand alone, they have two flags, and when they are grouped together with beams, they have two beams that replace the flags. This way, you can read them at a glance and easily see the difference between eighth notes (which only have one beam) and sixteenth notes. A single sixteenth note is exactly one-half the value of an eighth note. So, there are two sixteenths to every eighth, and because they are twice as short as eighth notes, they move at twice the speed.

It then follows that there are also four sixteenth notes to every quarter note. The trick is to make sure that each sixteenth is dividing the eighth perfectly in half.

webrhythms 03ex2

Example A shows the proper way to count this grouping: the number, the syllable “e”, the “and”, and the “a”. Together, they sound like this: “one-e-and-ah”. When there are several groups of four sixteenths in a measure, they might sound like this: “one-e-and-ah two-e-and-ah three-e-and-ah”, and so on. When you count this figure, be sure that all the number counts in the measure are moving at a steady interval.

Example B shows you that the number count and the “and” count fall on the first and third sixteenth notes. The “e” and the “a” fall in between the eighths in order to divide them accurately.

  1. WebRhythms Lesson 3B - Silver 2:12
  2. WebRhythms Lesson 3B - Platinum 1:06
  3. WebRhythms Lesson 3B - Gold 1:39
  4. WebRhythms Lesson 3B - Diamond 0:51
  5. WebRhythms Lesson 3B - Bronze 3:17