Thursday, 10 October 2013

Discussion: Tempo, rhythm and timing

Timing is the ability to play a piece right through without speeding it up or slowing it down. It also involves the ability to keep up a rhythm and to emphasize certain notes at precisely the same moment as other musicians in the band. Timing can be difficult, especially in the early stages of learning to play the guitar or any other instrument, when you are concerned primarily with getting your fingers into the right positions and with sounding the notes or chords that you want. But timing is a skill that grows the more you play; it is directly related to confidence and experience. It is basic discipline which will spoil the effect of your music if it is not up to standard. If your timing is out and your playing speeds up and slows down then anyone can notice it.

Timing can be analyzed and communicated in terms or written musical notation. Timing breaks down into two components- tempo and rhythm.
Tempo is the speed of a piece of music. Any specific tempo is measured as a number of beats per minute and generally, one beat is represented by one quarter-note. This means that music can be speeded up or slowed down by changing the tempo, that is by playing more or less beats to the minute. Let's see the chart below which describes the various tempos:-

Italian                                    English                                 Beats per minute

Presto                                    Very fast                                     168-208
Allegro                                      Fast                                         120-168
Moderato                            Moderate speed                             108-120
Andante                        Moderate walking speed                     76-108
Adagio                                      Slow                                        66-76
Largo                                  Slow and solemn                           40-66   

Rhythm is the way in which a tempo is played. Whereas the tempo states how long it will take to playa set group of notes, the rhythm dictates which of the notes are emphasized and which are not. The rhythm is therefore what produces the feel of the music.                        

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