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How to recognize the beat in music

Hi everybody,

today I’m going to talk about a topic apparently very easy, but crucial for our musical formation: how to recognize the beat in music!

You will certainly have noticed, during a concert, a difference between people in the clap of their hands to keep the tempo of a song.

They are divided into two groups:

1) who claps his hands on one and three, which is in the first and third movements (example: One – Two – Three – Four);

2) who claps his hands on two and four, i.e., on the second and fourth movements.

(Example: One – Two – Three – Four)

Who is right?

The winner is the number two. Hands should be clapped on the beat “covered” by the snare drum (if we are talking about modern music), and then on two and four.

The reason why in Italy it is more likely to clap as in Step 1 is probably to be found in our great and illustrious tradition of classical music, and “Bel Canto”. In our tradition in its most popular and known as the tarantella, the downbeat is far greater than the upbeat; ditto for the first beat than the second.

And no doubt that in modern music the value of the “upbeat” is more important and characteristic that in classical music. If we think of the United States and their extraordinary jazz tradition, the figure is drawn: in the jazz drums, in fact, the focus of the hi-hat on the second and fourth beat is essential to create the typical swing sound.

Solved the mystery, I suggest a couple of exercises that can help us not only in rhythmic coordination but also in the creation of an internal rhythm more interesting in our improvisation:

1) Take the coordination exercises presented in the lesson “Coordination” and set the metronome beat 2 and 4.

2) Put the metronome and always considering the beat 2-4, let’s improvise.

See you in the next lesson!!

Have a Good time!


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