Piano for Beatmakers – #007 – How to Count Beats
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In lesson number seven of our Piano for Beatmakers email series, we’ll discuss counting beats.
Don’t think this piano course is just about the piano, because to know the piano, you also have to know about music theory, too!
For some of you this is super easy, but for others, you may just need a little push to fully grasp the concept.
Now, counting beats can actually get really complex if you’re talking about real drumming for example.
But I’m going to keep this simple and give you some fundamental basics which will stay with you for life.
The most common time signature of music we listen to is called Common Time.
You’ll see this written as 4/4 time. (That’s all I’m going to say about this as that will start getting into more in-depth music theory which isn’t fully needed at the moment.)
Okay, so with that said, we can easily count:
1, 2, 3, 4
And depending on how fast or slow our tempo is, that determines how fast or slow we’ll count.
And we just repeat this over and over for the whole song. (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc !)
I know, I know.. simple – but it has to be said so everyone is up to speed.
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
You can also count like:
1 and 2 and 3 and 4
You see those and’s in between?
This will allow you to add notes or different sounds so you can add a bit more movement to your loops. If you’re just placing notes on 1, 2, 3, 4, it can sound really robotic.
There is a time and a place for 1, 2, 3, 4, but keep the and’s in the back pocket.
And to take it further, you can also count like:
1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4
I’ve now added an extra a into our counting.
Again, this opens up more doors for creativity in your counting/playing.
And finally, I want to introduce you to a special word.
It’s called Syncopation.
It allows you to play notes off time, yet still stay in sync. (It’s a super cool one to understand.)
So for example, where I make bold/underline, you can play your piano chords:
1 and 2 and 3 and 4
So that’s some basic counting for you.
I show you how to set this up in FL Studio and go over some real-world examples in the piano course.
And next, we have one final email coming which will give you some tips on how to properly practice the piano as a beatmaker.
Remember, we are not classical piano players, so you must be practicing in a beatmaker’s environment to make practicing worth your time!