teaching

Insight 2: Rhythm

In our last Insight video we talked about 3 fundamental elements of music:  rhythm, harmony, and melody.  Today we go a little more in depth into the first of these, rhythm.  Let's explain some foundational concepts and give you an exercise to help develop and strengthen your sense of rhythm.

Remember, when music is playing there is a natural pulse or beat that occurs and how we create rhythm on the ukulele is by playing a pattern of strums or sounds against that pulse.  The strum pattern that you hear me play is a certain ordering of down and up strums, this is the pattern:

D, D, U, U, D, U

But more specifically this pattern occurs in relation to that natural pulse in the music. When I play the first down strum my hand needs to travel back up to the top of the strings in order to play the next down strum.  The same thing happens when I play the next set of 2 up strums but in the opposite direction.  When you watch my hand play the strum my hand will be moving in a constant down and up motion and only playing the strums when they occur in the pattern, IN RELATION TO the natural pulse of the music.

So our foundation with our strum below it looks like this:

D U D U D U D U

D     D U    U D U

So this strum pattern is created from an alternating pattern of down and up strums played in 1/8th notes,  so what are 1/8th notes?

That natural pulse in music usually occurs in cycles of four.  There are four beats then it repeats.  These four beats are called 1/4 notes because there are four of them in one cycle or measure.  Now if we divide each one of the these beats into two parts we end with 8 parts per measure or 1/8th notes.  So we can count it like this:

1/4 notes:     1  2  3  4

1/8th notes: 1+2+3+4+

So we connect it to our foundational pattern and our strum pattern it looks like this:

D U D U D U D U

1  + 2  + 3  + 4  +

D    D  U    U D U

If we want the opportunity for more complexity in our strum patterns then we can divide each quarter note into four different parts to get 1/16th notes that we can count like this:

1e+a2e+a3e+a4e+a

Learning how these different notes sound and how they feel to play is really important because they are the foundation for creating different strum patterns.  Try out this exercise of alternating between playing 1/4, 1/8th, and 1/16th notes.

D     U     D      U

1      2      3      4

D U D U D U D U

1  +  2  + 3  + 4  +

D U D U   D U D U  D U D U  D U D U

1  e  +  a  2  e  +  a  3  e  +  a  4  e  +  a

Remember the pulse remains constant just how you divide it changes ;)

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some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Insight 1: Elements of Music

ELEMENTS OF MUSIC:

Welcome to our first installment of our new Insight video series where I’ll share a little knowledge about music and ukulele and hopefully help you to become a better player.  Today I want to talk about 3 fundamental elements of music and how they apply to ukulele: RHYTHM, HARMONY, MELODY.

We can think of RHYTHM as the interaction between music and time.  When we hear music there is a natural and constant pulse or beat within that music.  We create rhythm by playing the strings in different patterns against this constant pulse with our right hand by strumming.

HARMONY can be defined as multiple notes or pitches happening simultaneously.  We quickly learn how to do this on the ukulele with our left hand by learning our first chords.  These two things rhythm, our strumming, and harmony, our chords, are usually what we learn to do first and we spend most of our time developing.  I think this is a great thing to get us playing very quickly but all too often people don’t put enough emphasis on developing the third element, melody!

Where harmony is multiple notes happening simultaneously, MELODY is a set of individual notes that are strung together to create a musical phrase.  These melodic phrases are really what define a song, it’s the part of the music that you remember when you think of a song.  Go ahead think of any song…what you're probably recalling is the melody…

So how do we incorporate melody with the ukulele?  We either do it with our voice, or we do it with the instrument.  Both of these things take a little time and effort to develop so you should start incorporating one or both of these into your practice right away.  The great part about this instrument is that, unlike a trumpet or a violin, you can actually accomplish all 3 of these elements at the same time while you are playing.  Check out our last Sessions Video for an example of this.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to [fblike url="https://www.facebook.com/UkuleleInspired" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!