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A Basic Introduction to Rhythm
Part 6: Note Values and Rest Values

The length of a note is determined by its note value, as exlained in Part 5. The pitch of a note is determined by where it occurs on the staff. Since our focus is on rhythm right now, we won’t go into detail on the pitches, though. That topic will be covered in another section.

Here is an example of a simple melody consisting of a few pitches, all of which are quarter notes. In this piece the time signature is four-four, so there are 4 beats in a measure and each note is equal to one beat.

A quarter note melody

What do we do if we don’t want any note to be played at all? We use rests. A rest indicates that you should not play anything. It means silence. The quarter rest is the rhythmic equivalent of a quarter note. If the bottom number in the time signature is 4, then the quarter rest is equal to one beat.

A quarter rest looks like this:

Quarter rest

We’ll now take our melody from above and change it by inserting some rests.

A melody that uses quarter notes and quarter rests

By adding the rests, we have created more variety in the melody and made it more interesting.

Let’s move on to longer note values.
Go to Part 7


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