|Contents||Note values||Dotted notes||Accompaniment||Examples||Ex. 1||Ex. 2|
|Ex. 3||Ex. 4||Ex. 5||Ex. 6||Ex. 7||Ex. 8|
|Ex. 9||Ex. 10||Ex. 11||Ex. 12||Ex. 13||Ex. 14|
The following text will make more sense as you go, but read it now and review it later.
The time of a piece of music is dictated globally by the time signature, which is located at the beginning of the piece. It is either a letter C (means 4/4 time), the same letter C but with a line through it like a cents symbol (means 2/2 time), or two numbers situated vertically, one above the other. Here is a look at the three.
Pieces are divided into spaces called measures, which are separated by vertical lines that run from the top to bottom lines of the staff. These lines are called bar lines (sometimes one word.)
What the time signature tells us is how much time's worth of music there should be in each measure. There can be no more or no less than what it prescribes. There is often one incomplete measure at the very beginning and end of a piece, but even these must together total one full measure.
The time signature tells the fiddle player or singer how much melody there should be per measure. As it has been made consistent for the music of Dear Old Illinois, the time signature tells the guitar player what rhythm to play and how many bass-and-strum units of accompaniment there should be in a measure.
The time signature may change during the course of a piece, and there are different reasons for this. It may be to accommodate an irregular rhythm such as that of a liberally structured rendition of a song, or a fiddle tune with extra or missing beats. Or it may be deliberate and used for effect in either songs or fiddle tunes. The book has examples of both. Whatever the case, know that it can change.
The time of music is divided into even (divisible by two) increments. From longest duration to shortest, they are:
In describing them, the whole note is hollow, the half note is hollow with a stem, the quarter note is solid with a stem, the 8th note has a stem and a flag, the 16th note has two flags, and the 32nd note has three flags. The round part of the note is the head.
The notes shown above all of the notes used in Dear Old Illinois. There is a double whole note at the long end of the duration spectrum, and there are 64th and 128th notes at the short-duration end, but none of these are used in the book.
So, everything is divisible by two; there are no 3rd notes or 5th notes, for example. The various length of time each type of note is held is referred to as its value or duration. It is said that, for example, a quarter note is worth two 8th notes, etc.
Below you can hear what the times of the various notes sound like.
As mentioned above, there are no notes of odd values, but there are equivalents of this. The dotted note has 1 1/2 times its usual value. So, for instance, a dotted 8th note is worth an 8th note plus a 16th note; a dotted quarter is worth a quarter plus an 8th, and so on.
Tied notes can also total odd values but do not necessarily. They are used for more than one reason. One is to represent notes of odd values that can't be represented by a single note, such as a note worth five 16th notes. Another reason is to represent notes that span a bar line. And yet another reason is to represent the punch, a fiddle ornament found on the Ornaments page. Both dotted and tied notes will be encountered in the examples below. Here is a preview of what they look like.
The example above that illustrates all the note values is in 4/4 time. This means that there should be four quarter notes per measure. Another way to say this is that there should be four beats to the measure and that the beats fall at each quarter note.
The framework of the guitar accompaniment for the music of Dear Old Illinois is very simple. It always follows the pattern of playing a single bass note, followed by either one or two strums of a chord. Each bass-strum or bass-strum-strum is called a unit of accompaniment.
In the book, the 4/4 time signature always means that the guitar should be playing four bass-strum units of accompaniment, each bass and each strum worth an 8th note. This is seen to be true in the example above.
What the guitar does compares rhythmically to stomping and clapping in time to music, the bass notes being the stomp, the strum being the clap. The bass notes of the guitar fall on the beats called the downbeat, the strums fall on the upbeat. The first beat of each measure is the downbeat.
Now let's get practical with all of this information above. Below are a number of examples. The sound files were generated in the notation program and are
very accurate in regard to time, which is especially difficult to render faithfully on real instruments at extremely slow speed. The examples are all two
measures in length. Each example is given using the following pattern:
Everything you hear in the sound clips can also be seen. Even the counter is represented in the images of the examples.
Incidentally, the melodies are not necessarily from the book, at least not verbatim. The note value combinations are intended to offer variety, and most of the melodies were assigned more or less randomly to them.
In learning time, many find it helpful to break down notes into smaller ones. The "base unit" note of most of the examples is the 16th note. The counter enables you to hear the various different notes in terms of how many 16th notes they represent. Also, the rhythm of the guitar is a gauge of time, as it is consistent in the durations of it bass notes and strums.
The first several examples give note value combinations that might be encountered in a fiddle hoedown or a song in 2/4 time. The accompaniment pattern, per measure, is two bass-strum units, each bass and each strum worth an 8th note. As an aside, the 2/4 examples could have been written in 4/4 time. The only difference is that they would only be one measure long instead of two. Otherwise, the music would be identical.
In looking at our first example, we see that it is one of the simplest; all of the melody notes are 16th notes. This means that the notes should align with the 16th note counter, and you will hear that they do. We will look at the note values for each of the examples numerically. This example would be represented as so:
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 | 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
In other words, each note is worth one (1) 16th note, and there are eight of them per measure.
One other thing to notice is the flags. Notice that they are joined into groups of four. This is meaningful; each group is worth a quarter note. You will note that The first one of each group aligns with either a bass note or a strum of the guitar. You will see this grouping into quarter notes in other examples, but sometimes it isn't possible, as you will also see in some examples. This happens when the rhythm of the melody is not divisible into quarter note blocks or, of course, when there are quarter, half, or whole notes, which have no flags.
Let's investigate the first example.
Now we will add the guitar, which gives some bearing as to how very slow the tempo of this example is.
Here is the example at a more normal tempo. Notice that the click-off counter changes to quarter notes, same as each bass note of the guitar. At this tempo, the 16th note counter is cluttered and a bit confusing.
And finally, let's put a little melody to it.
Here is another simple one, this time it's all 8th notes, each of which is worth two clicks of the counter (two 16th notes.) Numerically, that would go:
(1-2) (1-2) (1-2) (1-2) | (1-2) (1-2) (1-2) (1-2)
Listen also to how the notes align with the guitar. Remember, each bass note and each strum is worth an 8th note.
Now let's start mixing it up. Numerically, this example goes:
(1-2) 1 1 (1-2) 1 1 | 1 1 (1-2) 1 1 (1-2)
1 1 1 (1-2) 1 | 1 1 1 1 (1-2) (1-2)
(1-2) 1 (1-2) (1-2) 1 | 1 (1-2) 1 (1-2) 1 1
So far, all of our examples have been made up of 8th and 16th notes. Let's add a quarter note.
(1-2-3-4) 1 1 (1-2) | (1-2) 1 1 (1-2-3-4)
And now let's hear it from the dotted 8th note.
1 1 1 1 (1-2-3) 1 | 1 (1-2-3) 1 1 1 1
And let's introduce the dotted quarter note. It's worth six 16th notes or three 8th notes (bass-strum-bass of accompaniment.)
(1-2-3-4-5-6) 1 1 | 1 1 (1-2-3-4-5-6)
But what about those 32nd notes? Here is an example. The notation program doesn't do well with playing them back in monotone, so we'll skip that and go straight for melody. Numerically, we have:
1 1 1 (1/2-1/2) 1 1 1 1 | (1-2) 1 (1/2-1/2) (1-2) 1 1
Now let's have a few examples for waltzes or songs in 3/4 time. The "base unit" note changes from a 16th to an 8th note, and there are six 8th notes (three quarter notes) per measure. Numerically, our first example reads:
(1-2) (1-2) (1-2) | 1 1 1 1 1 1
Note that the click-off counter changes to quarter notes for the faster examples.
Another waltz example, this one featuring the dotted quarter note.
(1-2-3) 1 (1-2) | (1-2) (1-2-3) 1
This time our example has some long notes. The dotted half note equals a full measure in 3/4 time.
(1-2-3-4) (1-2) | (1-2-3-4-5-6)
Here's one for a schottische or song in 6/8 E.M. (even meter) time. The counter is back to 16th notes, and there are twelve of them per measure. Accompaniment is two bass-strum units per measure, each bass and each strum being worth a dotted 8th note. And we have our first tied note, a dotted 8th and an 8th, for a total value of five 16th notes. This is fairly common in schottisches and songs in 6/8 E.M. time. Numerically speaking, the example runs:
(1-2) 1 (1-2) 1 (1-2) 1 (1-2) 1 | (1-2-3-4-5) 1 (1-2-3) (1-2-3)
Note that the click-off counter changes to dotted 8th notes for the faster examples.
Our last example is for a jig or a song in 6/8 O.M. (odd meter) time. The counter is 16th notes, again 12 per measure. Accompaniment is not even, that is, the bass notes are each worth a quarter; the strums are worth an 8th. Each measure gets two such units. Numerically, the notes of the melody go:
(1-2-3-4-5-6) (1-2) (1-2) (1-2) | (1-2-3-4) 1 1 (1-2-3-4) (1-2)
Note that the click-off counter changes to quarter notes followed by 8th notes for the faster examples.