<< Counting with a System: 4/4

Here are some examples of counted passages, including the downbeats/upbeats and the numeric counting and syllables. As we progress, some guidelines will be pointed out to help you count rhythmic passages on your own.

Work to understand the counting system by reading the notation, listening to the recording, and playing each example.

2/2, or Cut Time, is a simple meter. The concepts of 2/2 counting (syllables) apply to all simple meters.

Guideline: Count All Beats

The passage below includes a whole note, which receives two beats. Notice that both beat numbers are notated, even though you only play a new note on the first beat of the half note. You want to always know which beat in the measure you are on, so always count the numbers (even if a new note does not start on the beat).

Example 1

Guideline: Count Only to the Level Needed

Notice that these examples include mostly downbeats. The upbeats and “&” syllables are only shown where the quarter notes occur. This is our next guideline of typical counting – only count to the level that is needed to understand the rhythm. This passage has no eighth notes, so there are no “e” and “a” syllables included in the counting.

Example 2

Example 3

The following passages introduce eighth notes. Following the same guideline, the “e” and “a” syllables are only applied where there are eighth notes.

Guideline: Numbers Always Line Up with Downbeats

No matter how complex the rhythm gets, the beat numbers always line up with the downbeats.

Example 4

Example 5

<< Counting with a System: 4/4

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