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Need help with reading rhythm notation.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Flipsnake, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. I'm having a bit of a problem reading some complex combinations, with tons of dotted eighths and tied sixteenth notes...
    Do any of you have some tips for learning how to read the stuff?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    1. Take it slowly

    2. Spot the notes that land on the beat as a reference for keeping the beat---if you don't land on those notes when you're supposed to, you know you're off

    3. Always keep the beat subdivided in your head

    4. Keep practicing at it...it gets easier once you learn to recognize patterns that crop up a lot, and the only way to do that is to read a lot of music
  3. Like JimmyM said you have to read it to get it.....
    An old rhythm guitar trick, sing the lyrics under your breath... the lyrics hooked to the tune will give you the tempo. Or I should say will be pretty close.

    His point about phrases repeating themselves is a good hint.
  4. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    As practice to improve my sight reading I sometimes read music like you would read letters/sentences in a story. I do this without trying to play the bass or music. I do 4 things 1. I read and say the rhythm ( 1+2+3 4 etc) 2. I read along and say the notes ( C D Eb F etc.) to help me learn the notation. 3. I say/sing the notes in time w/the rhythm. 4. Then I go to my bass and do all this while playing. This process gets the music and rhythm into my head quicker than just trying to harsh all this stuff out on the bass. Hope this helps
  5. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Make sure the rhytms are well written because a lot of time it is poorly written and it becomes unmusical and incromprehensible to read and feel.

    You should be able to see all the downbeats on the staff which means all the notes,rests or ties. Plus, all beats should be group individually with their own rests and notes. If it's not,change the book or chart. A lot of people don't know how to write funky rhytms.

    If you have problems with ties,take them out and read or play the bar or portion of music without them. Then when you are confident about the precision of your beat,put them on.

    Good luck, it takes time and steady work. Few minutes every day will do the trick,

  6. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    When practising this sort of stuff at first, you must make sure you can hear that 16th note pattern (1-ah-and-ah-2-ah-and-ah...) ticking away all the time in your head to really fix where each 16th note is in your mind. Needless to say, slowing right down helps a lot too when finding your way through a new piece.

    A particularly tricky bar can sometimes be ironed out a bit by writing it out as TWO bars, with all the notes values doubled (dotted eighth notes as dotted quarters, 16ths as 8ths, et cetera). Then play it with your foot just tapping out the every other beat. Gradually bring up the tempo until you've learned how it will sound when fitted into the original piece of music.

    It's a bit of hassle, but guaranteed to work when you just can't figure out the phrasing of the original or really want to be sure you've got it exactly right. After a while, you'll find it's no longer necessary to do this.
  7. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Some good suggestions here. I would also recommend transcribing rhythms. Drum patterns are a good place to start. Then move on to transcribing some bass lines.
  8. There are some books that address this very issue. Louis Bellson's drum book is a classic; I think the title is "Modern Reading in 4/4" or something like that. There's also one called "The Rhythm Bible" that I found very helpful, partly because it comes with a CD so you can listen and check your reading.
  9. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    Take your instrument out of the equation for now and just clap it (if you're not already). Count out loud
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
  11. I usually un-dot them because it's easier for me to read an eighth note tied to a sixteenth note. Also, I slow everything down so eighth notes act like quarter notes and sixteenth notes act like eighth notes, then I speed everything up to tempo.

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