Learn How to Count Properly
Music is math. Music is set to a meter, a predetermined count of time. This applies to all music. As a musician, each one of us controls time and space with sound. In order to play music properly, we all must have a rudimentary understanding of what a meter is and how we must count our beats. Without this understanding, our music would make no sense to our listeners.The meter is given at the beginning of every piece of music. It is stated by the two numbers that sit atop of one another after our clef sign. We all know that the top number represents the amount of beats we will have within a measure. But what is often forgotten is what that bottom number means. Too many times I have asked this question only to be met with a vacant stare and a reply of, “I don’t know.” This is a fundamental principal that our music is written around and that everyone who aspires to be a musician should understand.The bottom number represents which note value we are going to be counting as our beat.
A. If the bottom number is a 2, that means the half note will be counted as the beat.
B. If the bottom number is a 4, then the quarter note is now the beat.
C. If the bottom number is an 8, then the eighth note is now the beat.
Now that we know what we are counting as our beat, we should be able to divide (first break down) and subdivide (second break down) our beats properly.Ex. In 2/2 time. Just remember that all the beats can be added up within a measure and that each beat can also be broken down (divided and subdivided) into parts. The first measure in the example shows the beat before it is broken down. The second measure shows the first division of the beat while the third measure shows the second division of the beat.
-Tom Sprayberry, M.M.