top of page

Music Theory for Recorder: Rhythm

This page is dedicated to various topics related to rhythm - that aspect of music that has to do with time. How long does a note last? How fast do the notes change with relation to each other? How do we define the various rhythmic patterns that our brain detects? Topics here include meter, tuplets, hemiola, rubato and syncopation.
It is highly recommended to work your way through this page starting at the top, as each installment builds on the previous one. It is also recommended that you consult the NOTES where you will find more detailed information regarding these topics.

Go To

Reading Time Signatures

YouTube Video: Music Theory Crash Course

Explains time signatures, beats, and simple and compound meters.

Meter - Simple and Compound

MP3 Playback

00:00 / 02:26

Score and Audio File

Listen to the meters; not for playing along.


How to Decipher Tempo Markings in Music

YouTube Video: Odd Quartet

Tempo tells us how fast or slow the beats of our chosen meter should go. Words in various languages are often used, but we can also be very precise by giving a Metronome marking.

What are Tuplets?

YouTube Video: Basic Music Principles

Defines tuplets.

Tuplets: It's Complicated

YouTube Video: 12tone

More advanced application of tuplets and polyrhythms.

Intro to Tuplets

MP3 Playback

00:00 / 01:34

Score and Audio File



YouTube Video: Drew Nobile

Defines hemiola - the shift in pulse from triple to duple meter (or vice versa) and includes examples in pieces of music ("America" from West Side Story and "Zamacueca" by José White). In this video the presenter uses the term 'straight duple' instead of the more common 'simple duple.'

The Hemiola

YouTube Video: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Defines hemiola, includes examples ("Concerto Grossi IV" by Geminiani), and describes its effect on a piece of music. Contains juggling.

Intro to Hemiola - SATBG

MP3 Playback

Score and Audio File

00:00 / 01:36

A Guide to Rubato

YouTube Video: Josh Wright

The presenter approaches the subject of rubato using a Chopin waltz for solo piano, but the concepts can be adapted for both solo and ensemble recorder playing.


CHOPIN Prélude 7

00:00 / 00:55

CHOPIN Prélude 20

00:00 / 01:35

Score and Audio Files

Here are two Chopin Préludes scored with lots of rubato.  The attached Sibelius scores demonstrate how intricate rubato is and how difficult it is to get a computer to sound like an ensemble of humans. 

Rhythm - Accent & Syncopation

YouTube Video: arXter

This video explains syncopation and how it was used in various periods of music.  It is an excerpt from a much longer documentary.

Level 8 - Syncopation

YouTube Video: Rich Gordon

This is a very lively interactive video that asks you to try to create syncopated rhythms on your own.

Syncopation made easy!

YouTube Video: Josh Wright

Another interactive video that delves into more complex syncopations to practice on your own.

Intro to Syncopation - SATBG

MP3 Playback

Score and Audio File

00:00 / 02:16
bottom of page