What are the Music Rhythm Symbols?


There are basically 3 categories of music rhythm symbols.

      1) The Notes
      2) The Rests
      3) The Time Signatures

This page focuses on what these symbols are, how many counts the symbols get, and how to use them in context. If you're not really sure what all this rhythm stuff is, check out the what is rhythm page first. Now onto the symbols. 

The Notes

First we'll start with the notes. Each note is written a specific way to let you know how long to hold it. Think of it in terms of a drum beat. Each beat of the drum is a count. You need to hold certain notes down for certain amounts of counts. 

Type of Note

Picture

Number of Counts

Whole Note

Dotted Half Note

Half Note

Dotted Quarter Note

Quarter Note

Eighth Note

Sixteenth Note

32nd Note

Whole Note
Dotted Half Note
Half Note
Dotted Quarter Note
Quarter Note
Eighth Note
Sixteenth Note
32nd Note

4

3

2

1 1/2

1

1/2

1/4

1/8

The Rests

The next of the music rhythm symbols are rests. Rests are the places where you don't play or hold a note. They are places of silence. Here
they are:

Type of Rest   

Whole Rest 

Half Rest

Quarter Rest 

8th Rest 

16th Rest

Picture   

Whole Rest
Half Rest
Quarter Rest
8th Rest
16th Rest

Number of Counts

4

2

1

1/2

1/4

Time Signatures

The final music rhythm symbols are time signatures. The most common one is this: 44 Time  which can also be know as: Common Time

Notice that there are 2 numbers on top of each other. They each mean different things. The top 4 means that there are 4 beats in a bar. The bottom 4 means that a quarter note gets one beat.

34 timeWith this time signature, you know what the bottom 4 means. Any time there is a 4 at the bottom it means a quarter note gets one beat. The 3 on top means that there are 3 beats in the bar.

68 TimeIn this time signature, the 6 means that there are 6 beats in a bar. The 8 means that an 8th note gets one beat.

Those arel the basic music rhythm symbols. If you want to find out how to use them, check out the rhythm lessons next. Happy playing!

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