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Music Rhythm is the Foundation
By Paul Babelay - 12/01/2009 - 12:09 AM EST

There are three elements that make up Music -- Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony. However, there is one of these three that is a "liiiittle" more important...(okay, I'm a percussionist.) :-)

But there is truth that music rhythm is the heart of every song, every phrase, every word, and every note.

Probably, if polled, most songwriters would say "melody is the most important element." But they are forgetting can't construct a single word without rhythm. And the melody, itself, must line up with the rhythmic feel or groove of the song.

Music Rhythm, in its simplest form, is absolutely necessary for melody, harmony, and lyrics. A song must work rhythmically first!

Experienced songwriters and musicians understand the role of rhythm as the foundation. They don't have to think about it. It is second nature, built into their musical DNA.

Singing your melody until it feels just right actually means 2 things:

1) The rhythmic feel or rhythm bed of the song is established.

2) And all lyric rhythms are consistent with the established rhythm bed.

This is why listening to great songs is so important. You can hear how all of the elements support the lyric. You can hear how the rhythm forms a foundation for the lyrics to ride on.

I can't teach you everything about rhythm, but I can help you understand how every song has a basic groove/feel/vibe or rhythmic identity. And all the instruments must get "in sync" with this.

With this understanding you can craft your lyrics so they are "in the pocket" -- rhythmically in tune with the character of your song. In order to communicate any musical idea in its simplest form, the rhythm has to be solid, nailed down, clearly stated.

I'll bet you can already hear, say, and play rhythms. You have been doing this all of your life. You probably do it unconsciously. If you can say it, you can play it. (assuming you play)

To bridge this gap between sound and sight, you must develop these skills:

1) the ability to hear and recognize the rhythms...(in your head, with clarity)

2) the ability to feel the rhythms...(in time)

When you can do these things, then learning to write music becomes easier.

It is important to remember that although we learn to write music on paper - music is not a visual (seen) art form, but an aural (heard) art form.

Writing music becomes a natural and personalized process, as we master music rhythm.

(For more on this -- with articles broken down by note values in order for you to learn the "feel" of each, go to Remember, you can know how to read and write music like a master, but if you can't feel isn't really music.

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