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Virtual Mixing
Basic Music for Engineers


RHYTHMIC ELEMENTS are accentuated points along a repeating pulse.  The pulse itself is a rhythmic element called the BEAT.

A BEAT is a repeated heavy point in time that you can feel with your body.  A song’s TEMPO is how fast the beat is going.  Tempo is measured in BPM (BEATS PER MINUTE). 

When the rhythm repeats, it is called a MEASURE or BAR.  The DOWNBEAT is the first beat when the rhythm repeats (ex: the “ one” of “one – two – three – four – one – two – three – four  “). 

Much music is made of repeating groups of four beats.  When a note lasts for a whole measure it is called a WHOLE NOTE.  Notes that last for half a measure (two beats of a four-beat measure) are called HALF NOTES.  Notes that last only a quarter of a measure (a single beat of a four-beat measure) are called QUARTER NOTES.  The “ one – two – three – four “ are all each quarter note beats.

An EIGHTH NOTE is half of a quarter-note beat . A SIXTEENTH NOTE is a quarter of a quarter-note beat (there are 16 sixteenth notes in a measure).  Etc

A TRIPLET is a measure of 4 beats that have been divided into 3 beats (actually that is a half note triplet).

TIME SIGNATURES show how the beats repeat and how fast the beats are.  If they feel as if they repeat after every fourth beat, the song is most likely has a time signature of 4/4 (four quarter notes per measure).  Waltzes are written with a time signature of 3/4.  Some songs are 5/4, 6/8, etc.