Topic outline

  • This is an introductory course in rhythm. Most of the exercises you can check done by yourself. Just click the box on the right side of the exercise name after you have done it.
  • Beat and pulse

    In music the beat is the basic unit of time, the pulse. The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to a piece of music.

    In different music styles it appears in different ways. In dancing music, the beat is usually clear, often more subtle in art music. Not all music has a clear beat or pulse.

    We've all been listening to the pulse (heart rate) before we were born. Listen to the example below.

    The beat of our own heart can be calm or more intense. Measure your own heart rate as described below.

  • Tempo or speed of music

    Tempo is a musical term that determines how rare or dense the pulse is in a song. We also talk about the speed of the piece. 

    The tempo can be expressed as a number. For example, tempo 120 means 120 pulses / beats per minute. This can be marked as 120 BPM (beats per minute). 

    The pulse of the human heart is about 60-80 BPM. In music we experience such a tempo quite calm. In the music and especially in the musical notes, the metronome mark MM = 60 is also used. This means the same as BPM, or beats per minute.

  • Measure or bar

    The pulse of music is organized into groups called measure or bar.

    The phenomenon could be visually illustrated like this:

    • xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx ((groups of 4 members)
    • ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo (groups of 3 members)
    • ///// ///// ///// ///// (groups of 5 members)

    In music, grouping can be based on one or more of the following:

    • the difference in tone pitches
    • differences in tone volume
    • differences in the duration of the tones
    • differences in the sound color