Practise your basic rhythm skills. Identify core rhythm concepts that you have learned so far like syncopation, tempo, and the pulse.
After completing this module: you will be able to identify syncopation and tap or play along with rhythm examples.
Practice recognizing the tempo, practice syncopation with simple exercises and more in this module designed to help you master rhythm through practical application.
- Practice Recognising Tempo
- Rhythm vs. Tempo
- Rhythm Practice Tips
- Practice Syncopation
- Hone Your Rhythmic Precision
Syncopation is Everywhere
While syncopation is found in many musical styles, Latin music has some of the most complex syncopated rhythms in popular music. While you might find some syncopation in rock and jazz, mainstream pop tunes, dance music, and indie rock rarely deviate too much from basic rhythms. In hip-hop music, the syncopation is often found in the actual lyrics, and the truly talented hip-hop artist can create complicated rhymes as intricate as the most complex drum beats.
Listen to a few of the musical examples below to further explore syncopation in music. As you listen to the music, use your ear training skills to:
- Find the pulse of the song
- Tap a basic four note rhythm
- Identify the downbeats
- Hear how the instruments and/or vocals deviate from the stronger beats
- Listen for rhythms on the weaker beats
If you are comfortable with syncopation, take out a pair of sticks and try to tap out the more difficult rhythmic beats. If you are vocalist, try to make up your own rhythms and vocal lines using nonsense syllables, like jazz scat singing.
Tom Sawyer by Rush
In this music example, the entire band goes crazy with the beat, throwing in so much syncopation that it can be difficult to determine the pulse of the piece. This includes a change of time signature to 7/8 (or seven 8th notes per measure instead of the typical eight 8th notes per measure to make standard 4/4 time).
Brick House by The Commodores
Almost by definition, funk music is syncopated. Whether it’s the bass player messing with the beats or the drummer skipping quarter notes left and right to play syncopated 16th note rhythms, if you want to find syncopation, funk is where it is at.
So Much To Say by Dave Matthews Band (Live Version)
The Dave Matthews Band is one mainstream band that is not afraid of experimenting with rhythms, time signatures, and syncopation. With a myriad of musical influences, The Dave Matthews Band is a great example of music that can also challenge the listener.
There are literally hundreds of syncopated rhythms used in all musical genres, from classic rock to jazz to samba. As you become comfortable with basic rhythmic patterns, start experimenting with your instrument or voice. Learn how to really master the rhythm with good listening skills!