Rhythm Reading

You should take the time every practice session to work on specific rhythms. Let's first learn a bit about rhythm and at the bottom of the page you can choose from a variety of cool rhythm exercises:

The time signature is placed after the treble clef.

Time signature 3/4 on the staff with Treble clef and Any key other than the key of C major/ A minor would have sharps (#) or flats (b) placed between the Treble clef and Time Signature.

The top number tells us how many beats we can have in each measure.
The bottom number tells us what type of note gets the beat. (This is also how long the whole note will be held for)

The 2 measures below are divided by a bar line.
2 measures on the staff.  Bar line divides the two and the large double bar line signifies the end.
The double bar line at the end represents the end.

Common time (C) is the same as 4/4
Time signatures Common Time 4/4


All the examples on the right have a metronome set at 60bpm (beats per minute) and all are common time (4/4).

60bpm is the tempo.

The quarter note gets the beat in common time (4/4) and with the metronome set at 60 it would be the same as the second hand on a clock.

Please note: The time signature does not have anything to do with the tempo (speed) of the song. The time signature tells us what of type of note gets the beat and how many beats are in each measure.

Feb. 15, 2017

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Whole note
Worth 4 beats in 4/4
orth 4 beats in 4/4

The whole note.

The whole note is held for the value of the bottom number in the time signature. In 4/4 or Common time the bottom number is 4 and so the whole note is held for 4 beats. Because the top number is also 4 we can only have 4 beats in a measure. Since the whole note is worth 4, we can't fit anything else in this measure.

Listen midi file for slower connections (right click to open in new window)

Half note
Worth 2 beats in 4/4

The half note is worth half of the whole note.
So if the whole note is worth 4 beats, the half note is worth 2. As long as the top number is 4, we can have 4 beats which means we can put 2 half notes in the measure.


Quarter note
Worth 1 beat in 4/4

The half note.

The quarter note will be worth half of a half note. So in the case of 4/4 where the half note was worth 2, the quarter note will be worth 1 and we could have 4 in a measure.


Eighth note
Worth 1/2 a beat in 4/4

The eighth note.

The eighth note is worth half of the quarter note. Which means it is only worth half of a beat. 2 connected together would be worth 1 beat and we could put a total of 8 in a measure.


Sixteenth note
Worth 1/4 of a beat in 4/4

The sixteenth note will be worth half of an eighth note. So a single sixteenth note in 4/4 time would only be worth 1/4 of a beat. You could play 4 sixteenth notes in one beat and 16 in a measure.


The exercise to the left uses just your open G string.


Common time with whole, half, quarter and eighth notes.


Below you can compare 4/4 with 6/8 time. Notice with each new note value it is half of the previous note value.

  • Whole = 4
  • Half = 2
  • Quarter = 1
  • Eighth = 1/2
  • Sixteenth = 1/4

  • Whole = 8
  • Half = 4
  • Quarter = 2
  • Eighth = 1
  • Sixteenth = 1/2

Thank you for taking the time to check out my page on basic chord construction! I hope you found it to be helpful.

My name is Teague Purtell and I have been playing and teaching music for over 20 years. This site is an extension of me and my love of sharing music.


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