Following The Beat
When listening to music, you might find yourself tapping your foot along with the beat. The beat keeps track of the song’s time, by creating a regular pulsation against which the length can be measured.
The beat may be fast or slow, but it must be regular. Each beat has to have the same duration.
You’ve all heard the lead into a song when the lead singer counts to four and then the music begins. Or perhaps you’ve heard a drummer click the drum sticks together to begin a song. In both cases, they were setting the tempo for the song. The tempo is simply the speed at which the song is played.
Standard time, the most common time, means the music gets 4 beats per measure. A measure is a way to break the song down into small groups and are separated by bars.
Here is a blank slash sheet in 4/4 time:
A slash sheet represents a chord progression and tells us how many beats we play the chord. The chord that you play is labeled on top of the staff. The example below tells us to play a C chord for 4 beats:
Below you’ll see a 4 measure slash sheet. To play it we play an A chord for 4 beats, switch to an E chord for 4 beats, switch to a D chord for 4 beats, back to the A chord for 2 beats, and finally back to the E chord for 2 beats. Once you have played the 4 measures, you’ll want to repeat them.
Note: You can insert any given series of chords in the sample exercise above. You can also rearrange each of the A, E, and D chords we have provided at any time to see where you need to improve upon.
Using A Metronome
A metronome is a simple device that keeps time by creating a regular beat, usually by making a clicking noise for every beat. You can get a metronome at any music store. They come in all shapes and sizes, most notable is the traditional piano metronome with it’s swinging pendulum. Prices range from about $10 all the way to $100+. There’s no need to spend more than $20 for one.