Daniel Laberge
Rhythm explained, including 27 rhythm exercises by Daniel Laberge

 

 

Hi rhythm lovers,
I have devised this method and exercises in the early seventies while teaching music.
My goal was to present every possible rhythm in a specialized exercise.
The concept is based on «rhythmic figures».
Each one lasts one beat.
They are obtained by removing events off a master figure that contains all of them.
Therefore:
• If the beat is divided by two; there exist four rhythmic figures.
• If the beat is divided by three; there exist eight rhythmic figures.
• If the beat is divided by four; there exist sixteen rhythmic figures.
On this page, you will find an exercise specifically dedicated to each rhythmic figure.

 

 

 

Each exercise is preceded by a lesson, with graphic representations and detailed theory.
To help you learn, each exercise can be played back entirely on your loudspeakers or earphones at three increasing speeds.
For jazz musicians, the binary exercises also have a swing or double swing performance. Go to the bottom of the page for a link to the swing version.

 

 

 

Staff

 

The beats

 

Beats are the backbone of rhythm.
Their origin is probably related to the beating of the heart.

 

 

 

What is a beat?

 


A beat is the length of time between two pulses.

 

Beat graphic representation

 

The pulses can be:
• Expressed acoustically with the foot, the hands, a metronome or an instrument,
• Expressed visually by a conductor,
• Felt, not expressed.

 

 

 

 

 

How fast
are the
beats?

 


The speed of the pulsations is called the «tempo».
The slowest beats are around two seconds long, while the fastest are shorter than a quarter of a second.
Tempo is calculated in beats per minute (bpm).
A tempo of 60 bpm means that there are 60 beats in one minute, so every beat lasts one second.
At 120 bpm, there are twice more beats per minute, so each beat lasts half a second.
The average tempo for all music is just above 100 bpm.
The tempo can vary during a piece of music and it often slows down at the end, but it generally remains stable.

 

Choose among the following exercises:

 

Beat exercises

Rhythm exercise 1-1  
Featured figures


         

 

Rhythm exercise 1-2  
Featured figures


    

 

Rhythm exercise 1-3  
Featured figures


      

 

 

 

Staff

Staff

 

Binary beat division

 

The binary family is large as it includes:
•Division by two
•Division by four
•Part of division by six
•Division by eight

This section is concerned with the simple division by two.
Any binary beat has two alternating parts: the downbeat and the upbeat.

 

 

 


Binary beat

 

As you can see, there are only two places in a beat
where events or notes can be positioned or played:
•The downbeat
•The upbeat

 

 

 

How
rhythmic
possibilities
work

 

This means that for any given beat you can have
any of the four following possibilities:

1•Only one event on the downbeat.

2•Events on both the downbeat and the upbeat.

3No event at all.

4•Only one event on the upbeat.

 

 

The rhythmic figure used to represent a binary beat is called:
TWO EIGHTH NOTES

Binary
master
rhythmic
figure

   

 

Simple binary rhythmic figures

There exist 4 simple binary rhythmic figures:
•2 Primary
•2 Secondary

 

 

Secondary rhythmic figures lack the event that falls on the beat.
There is a secondary figure for each primary one.
Because the beat is so important, secondary figures have appeared after the primary ones had been well established.
The absence of event falling on the beat can be due to a silence or a sound that is held over from the preceding beat.
Because of this, there are two ways to notate secondary figures:
•With a rest
•With a tie

 

Primary
and
secondary
rhythmic
figures

 

Choose among the following exercises:

 

Binary exercises
PRIMARY
Rhythm exercise 2-1  
Featured figure



 
 

Rhythm exercise 2-2  
Featured figures


   

 
 
SECONDARY
Rhythm exercise 2-3  
Featured figure



 
 

Rhythm exercise 2-4  
Featured figure



 
 

Rhythm exercise 2-5  
Featured figure



 
 
MULTIPLE  SYNCOPATIONS
Rhythm exercise 2-6  
Featured figure



 
 

 

 

Staff

Staff

Staff

 

Ternary beat division

 

The ternary family is small as it includes:
•Division by three
•Part of division by six
•Division by nine

Everything goes in thirds in ternary music.
Any ternary beat has one downbeat and two upbeats.

 

 

 


Ternary beat

 

The rhythmic figure used to represent a ternary beat is called:
THREE EIGHTH NOTES

Ternary
master
rhythmic
figure

 

 

Writing
ternary
rhythm

 

In ternary music writing, each eighth note is worth one third of a beat.
Since two eighth notes always equal one quarter note, these now equal two thirds of a beat.
It takes a dotted quarter note to represent one beat.


   

 

Ternary rhythmic figures

There exist 8 ternary rhythmic figures:
•4 Primary
•4 Secondary

 

Choose among the following exercises:

 

Ternary exercises
PRIMARY
Rhythm exercise 3-1  
Featured figure



 
 

Rhythm exercise 3-2  
Featured figure



 
 

Rhythm exercise 3-3  
Featured figure



 
 
SECONDARY
Rhythm exercise 3-1s  
Featured figure

  OR   
 
 

Rhythm exercise 3-2s  
Featured figure

    OR   
 
 

Rhythm exercise 3-3s  
Featured figure

    OR   
 
 

 

 

Staff

Staff

Staff

Staff

 

Division by four

 

Beats divided by four are part of the binary family.
Everything goes in quarters in this feel.

 

 

 

Beat
divided
by
four

 

The rhythmic figure used to represent a beat divided by four
is called:
FOUR SIXTEENTH NOTES

 

Division
by four
master
rhythmic
figure

   

 

Binary rhythmic figures

There exist 16 binary rhythmic figures:
•8 Primary
•8 Secondary

 

Choose among the following exercises:

 

Division by four exercises
PRIMARY
Rhythm exercise 4-1  
Featured figure


 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-2  
Featured figure


 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-3  
Featured figure


 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-4  
Featured figure


 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-5  
Featured figure


 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-6  
Featured figure


 
 
SECONDARY
Rhythm exercise 4-1s  
Featured figure

 OR   
 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-2s  
Featured figure

  OR    
 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-3s  
Featured figure

   OR    
 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-4s  
Featured figure

    OR    
 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-5s  
Featured figure

    OR     
 
 

Rhythm exercise 4-6s  
Featured figure

  OR   
 
 

 

 

Staff

 

Daniel Laberge music

Menu for Music section
Rhythm explained - Including 27 rhythm exercises Octophony - The first octophonic system The web piano - Play it with your mouse Classical music accompaniments - For winds and string instruments IKO - The electronic trio Flute on a street corner - Music with scores