Rhythm Reading

Purpose: develop your ability to read rhythms.

Difficulty: Three levels of difficulty: starting, intermediate, and advanced. The starting level uses both simple and compound meter, but no ties or rests and no values less than an eighth. The intermediate level allows ties to appear, and some syncopation. In the advanced level you are likely to also see rests and smaller note values added to the mix (still nothing smaller than a 16th). Difficulty will vary somewhat even within a level but will stick within those guidelines.

How it works:

For this activity, only the rhythm matters. Each example is presented as a melody, but your job is just to tap its rhythm using the keys of the screen piano. Musica will provide the pitches automatically. (If you're interesting in sight reading where you have to get the pitches too, try the Melody Reading activity.)

We recommend using just two fingers (your index and middle finger, for example) on one hand for rhythm tapping. Choose any two adjacent piano keys and tap the rhythm by alternating between the two keys. Since you're not required to play specific pitches, the default keyboard will be the one-octave "fat keys" model because you're less likely to accidentally hit two notes at once when tapping. Aim for the middle of the key- the very bottom of the key is less responsive.

The melodies are invented by the computer so they are always new and often interesting. To make the exercise more fun these will even include chord accompaniment invented by the computer. If you're a songwriter you might even find some useful 'hooks' in these melodies. You can Save or Share the example if you like it. Once saved you'll be able to open it in the Composition or Lead Sheet activity to make changes.

You can hear any melody before attempting to tap it. The Play button at the top of the screen will let you hear what it sounds like. When you're ready to attempt tapping it yourself, touch the "Tap It!" button and you'll hear the metronome begin. You can begin tapping any time you like once the metronome is started; just play in time with the metronome marking the beat.

The Tempo Options Window: (touch the metronome icon to view)

• You may wish to change the tempo to make it either slower, for very complex syncopated rhythms, or faster, for very simple rhythms.

• By default, the metronome is set to sound a "divided beat." One sound marks the main beat divisions while a second sound marks the subdivisions within the beat. If you'd rather not hear a subdivided beat, turn off "Use divided ticks." For an explanation of how subdividing the beat will help you read rhythms check out in Chapter 3 of our free multimedia textbook, Exploring Theory with Practica Musica (available for download at the iBooks store).

• Turn on "show beat markers" to see where the beats are in each measure. Seeing where the beats are will help you learn to count.

You can try each melody as many times as you like. When you finish, you'll see horizontal bars appear below the staff that can help you to understand any errors. The blue bars represent the starting time and length of each note as written. Below the line of blue bars you'll see green or red ones that depict your own performance: green if they are close enough to the original to be marked correct, and red if they're 'off' in some way - either starting at the wrong time, or too short, or too long.


Feeling pretty good about your score? This activity gives you a chance to challenge a friend to beat your score for a particular example. When you've finished an example, look for the challenge icon (dueling noteheads) right underneath the Share button on the right side of the screen. Touch the icon to have Musica Touch email your musical challenge to a friend. When your friend opens the challenge with Musica Touch, the program will display the example along with your score and metronome speed. Your friend can choose to accept the challenge and can even challenge you in return by beating your score, or increasing the metronome speed, or both. Note that the challenge icon only appears after you've been scored for a particular example.


• If you get mixed up or lost, look to wherever the blue arrow above the staff is pointing. The blue arrow points to the note you're currently on - the following note is ready to play.

• Since the touch screen is very sensitive you'll want to use a certain playing technique. Lift your fingers high as you play, to avoid accidentally touching an unintended note - the screen will catch the slightest touch, deliberate or not. Be sure to treat the keyboard like a normal piano otherwise - that is, keep your finger on a note as long as you want it to keep sounding. Be aware that it is the touch of your fingertip that registers with the screen - your fingernail will not work! Play in the center of each key; hitting two notes at once will have the same effect as playing two notes quickly.

• You can turn off the chord sound if desired and you can change the volume and instruments for each voice. Instrument and volume changes are made by touching the blue information buttons at the left of the chords, the staff, and on the keyboard.

Musica Touch™ © 2014 Ars Nova Software. This page may be freely copied.