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How to Count Time
 

How to Count Time

Knowledge of the mathematical lengths of the notes is only useful up to a point. More important is how to relate these to the onward flow of the music, and this is done by counting the beats. It is the same as beating time to music that you hear—you respond to the beats and tap your foot accordingly. But when you become the player, you have to establish your own beat to set the time.

Here are some examples to put this into practice:

First count these measures evenly as shown, with a slight extra stress on the first beat of each one.

Now try these measures with varying note lengths. See if you can tap out the notes while keeping an even count., i.e.:

Here is an example in 3/4 time. Notice the dot after the half note which increases its time by half again. Thus, it gets three counts instead of two:

Now let’s try this with the guitar, playing the tablature notes instead of just tapping. Use alternating rest strokes for the melody (counting practice #1):

It is very important to try to count at the same time as you play. It seems a lot to remember at this stage, but if you try it a few times you will find it becomes quite natural. This will help tremendously later, when you start reading regular music notation.

Now here is an example in 3/4 time (counting practice #2):

Be careful in the second to last measure, where the rhythm is a little different.


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