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How is Rhythm Notated?

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General Aim of the Lesson

This lesson continues an examination of concepts and processes related to working with the three-way music notation that is intended to accompany songs and music throughout both music courses.
In this second series of exercises and activities students are introduced to the separate but basically similar ways that each of the three notation systems, solfege, staff and Hindi notation present rhythm and metre. Again it is important for students to recognise commonalities but at the same time be aware that both Solfege and Hindi notation arrange rhythm by showing how each 'beat' of the music is organised. Solfege (tonic solfa) uses lines, 'colons' and full stop symbols to organise the beats while Hindi separates groups of beats with vertical lines and links smaller rhythms with 'phrasing' marks.  In Western staff notation a variety of symbols represent different beat and rhythm patterns.

Specific Behavioural Objectives

As a result of studying this unit students should demonstrate

the knowledge and understanding that (cognitive and metacognitive)

  • Beats move in sequential patters in music.
  • Music, no matter what its origin, may share common rhythm systems.
  • Both solfege, which is a notation with its Pacific roots in Methodist and related hymn traditions - and reputedly originating centuries ago from contact between European and classical Indian traditions, and Hindi SAGRAMA notation follow similar patterns of arranging rhythm and beats.
  • Western staff notation is based on a different structure but is able to represent the same rhythms as both Solfege and Hindi notation
  • In the music courses whenever it is possible music will be notated or written in all three systems at once.

the ability to (pyschomotor)

  • Read musical rhythms in all three notations.
  • The ability to recognise and interpret rhythm symbols in any one of the three systems
  • The capacity to clap or play a simple rhythmic line in any of the three systems
  • in their attitudes, (affective)
  • Preparedness to work towards competence in practical application of the three notations in musical settings.

Work Requirements

Students should undertake the following tasks

  • Read and perform exercises and music notated in all three systems
  • Recognise related symbols in any of the three systems

Teaching Aids and resource materials:

  • Blackboard copy of rhythms notated in all three systems AND
  • Photocopies distributed to each student: These will display the rhythm symbols and processes of all three systems and exercises and examples.

Lesson Steps

Focus Question

How do we use rhythm in our lives?


Stimulus

Look at this music where the rhythm symbols for solfege, staff notation and Hindi have been written together.
rhythm1

  • What tells us that the beats have been arranged in regular patterns of TWO?
  • How are the main beats ('one', and 'two') shown as separate in tonic solfa?
  • Can you describe the symbol in staff notation that represents beats 'one' and 'two'?
  • How is each measure (or 'bar' ) of two beats separated in Hindi notation?

Now look at the second measure or bar of two beats.

  • What do you notice about the symbols for the rhythm of the second group of beats (beats 'three'and 'four')?
  • How is each separated from the next in solfege?
  • Can you describe the symbols used to show these new 'half' beats?
  • Notice that the first two symbols are separate and the second two have been joined at the top. These are two different ways of writing exactly the same half beats!
  • How are the 'half' beats linked or joined in pairs in Hindi notation? What new symbol is used?

Now look at the third pair of beats.

  • Which symbol shows the longer beat?
  • Which shows the shorter 'half' beat?
  • Can you guess what fraction of the measure or bar (group of two main beats) the longer symbol represents?

In the last or fourth measure or bar there is only one main symbol for pitch.  

  • How many beats do you think it represents in all three notations?
  • What tells you this?
  • How do both solfege and Hindi notation show the long second part of the beat?

When we sing the symbol in the last measure or bar we hold it for two beats before we stop singing.

GROUP TASK

Now clap the rhythm together.
Next sing the scale/saptak together.


Stimulus

Look at the second piece of music:
rhythm2
 Compare it with the first.

  • What do you notice about both that is the same?
  • What do you notice about each that is different?
  • How many measures or bars are there this time?
  • How many beats are there?
  • Are there more or less main beats that in the first example?
  • What tells you this?

GROUP TASK

Clap this example through, making the FIRST beat of each measure or bar STRONGER than the other TWO.
Next sing this example through, making the FIRST beat of each measure or bar STRONGER than the other TWO.


Stimulus

Look at this third piece of music:
rhythm3
 Compare it with the first and second examples

  • What do you notice about all three that appears to be the same?
  • What do you notice about each that is different?
  • How many measures or bars are there this time?
  • How many beats are there?
  • Are there more or less main beats that in the first example?
  • What tells you this?
  • Are there more or less main beats that in the second example?
  • What tells you this?
  • What new symbol has appeared in the solfege line?
  • What is its task or function?

GROUP TASK

Clap this example through, making the FIRST beat of each measure or bar STRONGER than the other TWO.
Next sing this example through, making the FIRST beat of each measure or bar STRONGER than the other TWO.
As an experiment you might divide the class into three groups and have each perform one of each example at the same time as the other groups.


Exercise

Add the missing rhythm symbols for the solfege and Hindi notation lines of this music example. You may work in pairs to complete this exercise. Use the examples to correct it.
rhythm4
How are the beats grouped?

  • In patterns of two beats, three beats or four beats?

Correct this at the beginning of the staff notation

Reflection

Teacher and students talk around the following questions:

  • What are the common features of rhythm notation across solfege, staff notation and Hindi notation?
  • What is different from one to the next?
  • Which if any is easier to read? Why?
  • Which if any is more difficult than the other two? Why?

Lesson conclusion and evaluation

Assessment Point    

  • Read and interpret rhythm symbols and the organisation of rhythm in each of the three music notation systems
  • Match missing notation symbol when other symbols are present.
  • Assessment Criteria
  • Demonstrated competence in reading and interpreting rhythm symbols and their organisation in each of the three music notation systems
  • Demonstrated competence in matching missing notation symbol when other symbols are present.

Evaluation

The teacher thinks about the following:

  • Did the students generally enjoy the unit?
  • Did they achieve the learning outcomes?
  • Were the activities appropriate to this particular group?
  • Do I need to incorporate more language activities to help students understand and talk about what they are doing?

Forward Planning

  • Where do I go from here?
  • How do I build on to what they have learned here?
November 2005
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