Grade One Music Theory - Lesson 15: Rhythm
In Grade One Music Theory, you might have to write two bars of rhythm as an answer to two given bars.
The question could look something like this:
Write a two-bar rhythm as an answer to the given rhythm.
Check the Time Signature
The first thing you need to do is look at the time signature. This tells you how many beats you will need to write in each bar, so it's very important.
In the above question, the time signature is 2/4, so we will need to write note values which add up to two crotchet (quarter note) beats in each bar. Always double-check your finished rhythm to make sure you have the right number of beats.
Look at the Existing Rhythms
The next thing you should do is look at the kinds of rhythm which have already been used in the first two bars. What note values were used, and which values weren't used?
In our question, we've got crotchets (quarter notes), quavers (eighth notes) and semiquavers (sixteenth notes). We don't have any dotted notes, and we don't have any ties. You should use the same kinds of rhythms in your answering phrase as you have in the given phrase - don't invent some completely new rhythms!
To write an answering rhythm, you should re-use some parts of the given rhythm, but don't just copy it exactly, of course! Here are some ideas:
You could use the same blocks of rhythm but change their order:
Or you could keep a couple of the simpler blocks the same, but swap the the others:
Or, you could even invent something completely new, but only for one or two beats' worth:
But watch out! It's not a good idea to invent completely new rhythms for the whole of the answering phrase - you are being marked on your sense of balance, not on how wildly creative you can be!
You should end your phrase with a reasonable long note. Usually this means a crotchet (quarter note) or a minim (half note). Phrases which end on quavers (eighth notes) or semiquavers (sixteenth notes) sound too abrupt.
Don't write a melody!
Don't forget that you only need to write a rhythm in Grade One Music Theory! Use the same notes as given in the example. Don't start writing notes of other pitches!
Here are some bad answers, with explanations as to why:
Reason: There isn't any connection between the given and the answering phrase.
Reason: This is just an exact copy of the given bars.
Reason: Not enough of the given phrase has been used, and it's not a good idea to write exactly the same rhythm in each bar.
The number of beats in the third bar is wrong.