Music Basics – Rhythm and Chords

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Music Basics Series – Part 5

By Jan Durrant


Both the Quarter Note and the Quarter Rest get one beat.

The Quarter Note has a filled in note head and a stem.

The Quarter Rest is a vertical musical symbol which resembles a ‘W’ turned on its side.

The Quarter note symbol stands for a note that is played for the length of one beat.

In other words, play any key on your instrument right now and simply hold it down while you say ‘one’. It is what we would call a short note.

The Quarter rest is a musical symbol which stands for one beat of silence. In other words, beats of silence in music are counted just like beats of sound.

The only difference between these two musical symbols is that there is complete sound for one beat during a Quarter Note and complete silence for one beat during a Quarter rest in music.
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A chord is defined as two or more notes from a scale played together at the same time.

Chords may be played in either blocked chord form or broken chord form.

A blocked chord simply means that two or more notes are played at the same time.

A broken chord is created when that blocked chord is just played one note after the other in sequence.

The first chord we will study is the C Major chord. The notes of the C Major chord are C, E and G.

Try this C Major Chord Exercise by placing fingers 1, 3 and 5 of each hand down on your desk or table top right now (remember that the thumb is finger number 1, the middle finger is number 3 and proceed to the pinky finger which is finger number 5).

Press down all three fingers (1,3 and 5) at the same time. You have just played the C Major BLOCKED chord.

Use this same table top method right now and similarly press down each finger 1,3 and 5 in sequence (one after the other) to create a BROKEN chord.

SPECIAL TIP** Remember, a chord with stems up means the right hand is playing and a chord with stems down means the left hand is playing the chord.

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Article source: About the author: Jan Durrant holds a Master’s Degree in Music from the University of Texas at San Antonio in Texas. She has over 25 years experience in both public and private school music teaching.

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