Beginner Primer Guitar course
Introduction to Music language & literature

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Basic rhythm structures

In this lesson we are going to look at playing and clapping different rhythm structures with the use of whole notes, half notes , quarter notes and eight notes. We will also try to do some exercises with these notes.

Table of contents
1. Introduction to notes
2. Rests
3. Whole and Half notes
4. Quarter note
5. Eight note
6. Exercises
7. References
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Introduction to notes

There are two types of notes in music which you might already know of, one kind of note defines the pitch of the note or how high or low the note is the second one defines the rhythmic value of the note meaning how long or short the notes are being held for.
In music, the term note value is referring to the duration of a note, or in simple terms how long a note is held. This is a great starting point for learning rhythm. What we need to remember most is that notes have a certain “look” that tells us exactly how long to hold them. Each of these notes will have these features a Head , Stem , Flag.

Type of notes

Below you will see the different type of notes and the number of beats each note gets.
Dotted notes


Music is made up of sound and silence. The notes tell you when to play and rests tell you when not to play.

Whole note

A whole note or a semibreve in music is known as something which has a time value of 4 beats. Meaning if you were to clap or count a whole note you should be counting 1 2 3 4 and clap or play at the 1 of every measure. By definition a whole note is a musical note equal in time value to four beats.

Properties of whole notes :-
A whole note receives 4 beats.
Clap on the 1 of every measure.
Sustain the note through all 4 beats.
Count the numbers while you play.

Half note

A half note or minim is a note played for half the duration of a whole note. Meaning if you now were to clap or play a half note , while counting 1 2 3 4 you should be clapping or playing on the 1 and 3 of every measure. As you will see each half note is given 2 counts which is what we get when we divide 4 into two halves from where this note gets its name half notes. And a half note comes with a stem which is attached to the head of the note.
Properties of half notes :-
A half note receives 2 beats.
Clap on 1 and 3 of every measure.
Sustain the notes for 2 beats each.
Half note comes with a stem attached.

Exercises based on whole and half notes
In the first few exercises we will try to clap or play rhythms using whole , half notes
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3

Quarter Notes

In music , a quarter note or crotchet is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note.The quarter note is a fourth (or a quarter) of a whole note. The crotchet is a fourth of a semibreve. Four quarter notes occupy the same amount of time as one whole note. Two quarter notes equal the duration of a half note. Now if you were to play quarter notes simply clap on all the beats of the measure 1 2 3 4 .
Properties of quarter notes :-
A quarter note receives 1 beat each.
Clap on all 4 beats.
Comes with a stem attached to the head.
It looks like a filled in half note

Exercises based on whole, half and quarter notes
In the next three exercises we are going to look at playing exercise with whole half and quarter notes.
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3

Eighth notes

A whole note has four beats. A half note has two beats. A quarter note has one beat. An eighth note has one half of one beat. An eighth note or a quaver is a musical note played for one eighth the duration of a whole note, hence the name. By definition an eighth note is ½ of a quarter note.
Now to play or clap eight notes you will need to count 1& 2& 3& 4& and clap on all the beats, the & is added so the quarter note can be divided in two halves .
An eighth note can be written in two ways one where 1 eight note secluded and the other is two eight notes joined together :-
Properties of eighth notes :-
An eight note receives ½ a beat each.
Clap on all the numbers and &’s.
Comes with a stem and a flag.
The flags are joined together while writing two consecutive eighth notes..

Exercises based on whole, half, quarter & eighth notes
In the next exercises we will be looking at eight and quarter notes.

Exercise 1
Exercise 2

Exercise 3


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