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rhythmic ear training

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by thehangingmist, May 6, 2010.

  1. so i really need to work on this. how do i go about it? i know i should transcribing stuff, but how and what? should i transcribe drum beats or just lock into them and play along? help me make a some kind of a plan
    edit: sorry i cant afford a teacher right now
  2. Just transcribe. Beats, melodies, harmony. It all has some form of rhythm and by transcribing music outside of simply rhythm, you will do wonders for your ear.


    These are the examples that we transcribe from for ear training classes at Berklee. Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm are all covered. Try some ear training one examples, they are basic 1/4, 1/8, and some 1/16 rhythms. If you find those easy, move on and try some stuff from two.

    Were I you, I would also transcribe rhythms and melodies from whatever type of music it is that you like. It's an easy way to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the music that you already enjoy.

    The method to transcribing is subjective really. I generally begin by conducting in whatever meter the tune is. If I cannot get the rhythms from that alone, I will subdivide 16ths. Subdividing 16ths makes it really easy to spot triplets, because they will sound absolutely whacky against your 16th notes. Don't simply limit yourself to conventional 3/4 and 4/4 meter either. 6/8 and 12/8 (while obviously related to 3/4 and 4/4) have a very different feel and should be approached a bit differently. Feel the beets in triplets (example: 123 123 123 123 for 12/8; 123 123 for 6/8).

    Here is a link to a .pdf with some basic conducting patterns to get you started: riversidemiddleschool.com/band/pdf%20files/basic_conducting.pdf
  3. thanks
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Actually, I think there is real value to separating the rhythmic considerations form the melodic ones. yes both are valuable, but rhythm , for me is far and away the harder of the two. Drum music is great for learning rhythm.

    Reading, writing, hearing and transcribing all cross-feed each other as skills: learn to write baselines you come up with, and play rhythms you come across.

    Start simple and work your way up, or rather: start with whole notes and half notes(and their rests) , then work your way into more detailed quarters and eights.

    don't expect to be notating 16thnote funk rhythms before you can hear the difference between an dotted quarter note and a quarter note :)

    good exercises here.

    For me, latin music was very helpful for rhythm reading because it's very syncopated but rarely more detailed than eighth notes and rests.
  5. maybe latin music is what i need, will check it out
  6. Pottish


    Nov 28, 2008
    Been looking for stuff like this myself. Ok at counting the basic rhythms up to 8th notes.

    I should learn dotted quarter notes before 16ths you say....
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I'd stress getting comfortable with sight-reading dotted quarter notes and eights notes/ rests before worrying too much about sight-reading complicated sixteenth-note stuff.

    the main reason is you need to learn to see the combinations of notes, dotted notes, and rests as really describing the space between notes, rather than the attack of the note itself. Putting limit on the complexity of what you'll be practicing with helps avoid confusion, but including those dotted notes and rests will help you look for the spaces as much as the notes.

    Which is not to say you should avoid exploring notated 16th note rhythms if you are curious. But if "rhythmic sight reading" is the goal, it's best to start simple and work towards the complex.
  8. honestly right now am not really interested in improving my reading, i just want to be able to able to understand and play along syncopated drums. if that requires working on reading so that i can "visualize" whats happening better than am up for it
  9. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    Get this book by Louis Bellson
    Modern Reading Text in 4/4 For All Instruments
    It's a classic work on reading rhythm that will help you achieve what you're talking about here.
  10. The thing I did that really nailed rhythms for me was to study percussion; classical and ethnic.
  11. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    +1 to learning the percussion parts. that's one thing that really helped solidify my understanding of Latin styles. So many styles for bass rhythms are deeply interlocked with what the drums are doing, it can be invaluable to learn the drum parts as well.

    Reading is not necessary to understand how to play along with syncopated drums, but my experience has been that learning rhythm notation has improved my ability to accurately and quickly perceive what is going on. Rather than trusting my intuition or memory , i can know with precision where the notes lie.

    At the very least you must be able to count the basic meter under whatever the drums and percussion are doing. Your profile says you're in New Delhi... If traditional Indian music is what you're playing along with, you have my sympathies :) those meters are complex! certainly way beyond the usual 4/4 American pop/funk/jazz thing.
  12. yep am here in Delhi but am not playing with any traditional Indian musicians yet, maybe in the future i will
  13. musicbikeman


    Aug 10, 2009
    You could always get some computer software help.

    There is a CD called MacGamut that is a program full of just Ear Training exercises. It has rhythmic, melodic dictation, chords, scales. That stuff will really build you up in a heartbeat.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Just one last comment about reading:
    I talk like I'm some expert sight reader, but that's certainly not the case. I know I'm still learning.
    If you are thinking of giving it a try , don't be daunted by the percieved difficulty: realize that it's not a skill that suddenly materializes after years of practice: It's a constant gradient, you slowly get better at it, and over time you recognize more and more rhythmic phrases at a glance. There are various benefits to your musical understanding that you will pick up at every step along the journey.
  15. yep i know it wont happen in a day or week just like any other study

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