Music Rhythm is the Foundation
By Paul Babelay - 12/01/2009 - 12:09 AM EST
There are three elements that make up Music --
Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony.
However, there is one of these three that is a "liiiittle" more
important...(okay, I'm a percussionist.) :-)
But there is truth that music rhythm is the heart of every song, every
phrase, every word, and every note.
Probably, if polled, most songwriters would say "melody is the most
important element." But they are forgetting something...you can't
construct a single word without rhythm.
And the melody, itself, must line up with the rhythmic feel or groove
of the song.
Music Rhythm, in its simplest form, is absolutely necessary for
melody, harmony, and lyrics.
A song must work rhythmically first!
Experienced songwriters and musicians understand the role of rhythm as
the foundation. They don't have to think about it. It is second
nature, built into their musical DNA.
Singing your melody until it feels just right actually means 2 things:
1) The rhythmic feel or rhythm bed of the song is established.
2) And all lyric rhythms are consistent with the established rhythm
This is why listening to great songs is so important. You can hear how
all of the elements support the lyric. You can hear how the rhythm
forms a foundation for the lyrics to ride on.
I can't teach you everything about rhythm, but I can help you
understand how every song has a basic groove/feel/vibe or rhythmic
identity. And all the instruments must get "in sync" with this.
With this understanding you can craft your lyrics so they are "in the
pocket" -- rhythmically in tune with the character of your song.
In order to communicate any musical idea in its simplest form, the rhythm has to be solid, nailed down, clearly stated.
I'll bet you can already hear, say, and play rhythms. You have been
doing this all of your life. You probably do it unconsciously.
If you can say it, you can play it. (assuming you play)
To bridge this gap between sound and sight, you must develop these
1) the ability to hear and recognize the rhythms...(in your
head, with clarity)
2) the ability to feel the rhythms...(in time)
When you can do these things, then learning to write music becomes
It is important to remember that although we learn to write music on
paper - music is not a visual (seen) art form, but an aural (heard) art
Writing music becomes a natural and personalized process, as we master
(For more on this -- with articles broken down by
note values in order for you to learn the "feel" of each, go to
Remember, you can know how to read and write music like a master, but
if you can't feel it....it isn't really music.
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