HOW TO COUNT MUSIC

 

You have to learn how to count the notes in order to play music properly.  It's quite easy, all you have to do is to be able to count to four.


There are two basic concepts to counting music.  You have music that is written in 4/4 time, which means that there will be four beats per measure.  And, then you have music that is written in 3/4 time, which means that there will be three beats per measure.  Most music is written in 4/4 time or 3/4 time for the most part.  Of course, there are other time signatures such as 2/4 time and 6/8 time, but most popular music is written in either 4/4 time or 3/4 time and other key signatures are basically a derivative of either 4/4 time or 3/4 time.

To begin with let's look at the shape and design of the notes.  It is the shape and the design of a note that tells us how many beats it will receive.


We will begin with the WHOLE NOTE.  A WHOLE NOTE is a circle without a stem or a flag.  It fills up the entire measure, because it receives a full four counts.  Below is a picture of a WHOLE NOTE occupying one measure.  Listen to this C major scale.  Each note of the scale is a whole note.  Each whole note gets 4 beats.  You can hear the steady beat in the background of this scale.  MIDI FILE.  Also, print up this PDF file of the sheet music of this scale.

HALF NOTES:  It takes two half notes to occupy an entire measure.  Half notes receive two counts each.  Below is a picture of two half notes occupying one measure.  Listen to this C major scale.  This time each note is a half note.  Each note of the scale gets 2 beats.  You can hear the steady beat of the drum in the background.  MIDI FILE.  Also, print up PDF file of the sheet music of this scale played with half notes.

QUARTER NOTES:  It takes four quarter notes to occupy an entire measure.  Quarter notes receive one count each.  Below is a picture of four quarter notes occupying one measure.  Listen to this C major scale.  This time each note is a quarter note.  Each note of the scale gets only ONE  beats.  You can hear the steady beat of the drum in the background.  MIDI FILE.  Also, print up PDF file of the sheet music of this scale played with quarter notes.

EIGHTH NOTES:  It takes eight EIGHTH notes to occupy an entire measure.  A single eighth note receives one-half count.  Below is a picture of eight EIGHTH notes occupying one measure.  Listen to this C major scale.  This time each note is an 8th note.  Each note of the scale gets 1/2 beat.  You can hear the steady beat of the drum in the background.  MIDI FILE.  Also, print up PDF file of the sheet music of this scale played with EIGHTH notes.

METHODS OF COUNTING:  A lot of musicians keep a steady count or "beat" by tapping their foot.  The foot begins in the up position and goes to the floor and then back up to the up position.  This movement would be the same as one count or "beat" in musical terms.  Others use a metronome to keep a steady beat.  Using a metronome, a whole note would get four clicks.  A half note would get two clicks.  A quarter note would get one click.  You would play two eighth for one click.

 

 

Quiz On Note Values For Counting

Test Your Knowledge of Counting Notes
1. How many beats does a quarter note receive?
a) One
b) Two
c) Three
d) Four

2. How many beats does a half note receive?
a) One
b) Two
c) Three
d) Four

3. How many beats does a dotted half note receive?
a)One
b) Two
c) Three
d) Four

4. How many beats does a whole note receive?
One
Two
Three
Four

5. How many beats does an eighth note receive?
a half of a beat
One beat
One and a half beat
Two and a half beats

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