Counting Rhythm or Verbalising Rhythms: Which works better?
The two main ways for you to learn rhythm is by counting and verbalising rhythm.
In the west, the primary formal method of learning rhythm for guitar players is counting rhythm. The predominant rhythm learning system is called the 1e+a rhythm counting system.
In Africa, the Indian Sub-Continent and several other non-western traditions and cultures, the primary formal method of learning rhythm for musicians is by verbalising rhythm. Or word of mouth rhythm. The two verbalisation systems best known in the west are Takadimi and Konnakol.
In these systems each word is a self contained rhythm. The word may or may not contain performance information (as in a tabla rhythm word). But the word will convey the rhythm verbally. In this sense the word is the rhythm.
Counting rhythm is mostly used to analyse and understand written music. Verbalising is mostly used to communicate non-written music, word of mouth music.
Which system is better for you learning to play rhythm and lead guitar?
Counting rhythm is useful for measuring and analysing music, statically, out of tempo. There are times when quantifying and numerising music and rhythm events are useful. For example when you are defining which beat or which part of a beat a rhythm starts or ends on.
Counting rhythm is NOT useful for communicating music and rhythm, dynamically, in tempo. Verbalising rhythm is far superior in this respect. Verbalising rhythm is useful for communicating music and rhythm, dynamically, in tempo.
Verbalised rhythms convey not only the start of a rhythm like rhythm counting does. Verbalised rhythms also conveys rhythmic duration. Which is a potent advantage over counting rhythm that describes only the rhythm attack.
In the writers experience, 10% of his rhythm time is spent counting rhythm. The other 90% is spent verbalising rhythm.
Verbalising the melodic rhythm for a song is like reducing the melodic pitches of the song to a single note and singing this one note melody.
Rhythmically verbalising a song, with every sounded and unsounded rhythm event articlulated, is a potent skill that helps your songwriting and improvising skills.
This is one way that rhythmisation helps you unlock melodic (lead guitar) rhythm and harmonic rhythm guitar.
The verbalising system that is most discussed on this website is the rhythmisation system. The rhythmisation system is a rhythm verbalisation system created by musician and guitar teacher, Taura Eruera, in Auckland,New Zealand in the 1980’s.
In those pre-internet times, Taura did not have access to Konnakol and Takadimi and so he created his own system. Describing rhythmisation and rhythmisation vocabularies in more detail in one of the main purposes of this website.
For now the first main distinction between rhythmisation and both Konnakol and Takadimi traditions is that rhythmisation is created for use with BOTH written and non written music traditions.
The second main distinction is that rhythmisation is a system of unique sounds so that rhythmisation word can mean only one rhythm. Or indicate only one rhythm notation.
For example, the word “takadimi” can mean four bars of whole notes, a group of four half notes, a bar of quarter notes or a group of four eighth notes or a group of four sixteenth notes. In other words, the one rhythm word can mean five different things.
In rhythmisation, each value is exclusively and uniquely expressed as debedebe, dubudubu, dobodobo, dabadaba and dibidibi respectively. Each value can be notated only one way and one way only.
The third main distinction is that rhythmisation is also a rhythm archiving system. Rhythmisation is a text based rhythm archiving system. Rhythmisation is a system for archiving melodic and harmonic rhythm phrases, sequences and compositions as text.
Being able to codify melodic and harmonic rhythm, then archive as text, then search, filter and re-organise data from such archives offers massive benefits for music researchers and publishers.
When combined with solmisation, musicians, teachers, scholars, composers and publishers have a powerful, non-notational, text-based, archival architecture at their disposal.
Notation based technologies like Sibelius, Finale and the many others do not offer this architecture currently. Rhythmisation may offer the music search engine architecture that musicians, teachers, scholars, composers and publishers can only dream about.
Notation softwares will be able to convert rhythmisation search engine results into notation for publication purposes. Notation softwares will be able to convert notation files into solmisation and rhythmisation search engine ready formats.
If you are a guitar player looking to learn to play convincing lead and rhythm guitar today, you are not concerned with lofty comparisons between rhythmisation and takadimi and konnakol.
If you here to learn lead and rhythm guitar …
You want a tour of rhythmisation, an introduction to all that is good (and limited) about rhythmisation, what the learning and playing benefits are, what a rhythm vocabulary is and why rhythm vocabularies are key, what resources are available and what rhythmisation school is available.
You want to know about rhythm pedagogy and how rhythm is and is not taught in the west, what other rhythmisation traditions are, who other rhythmisation advocates are, and some of the research into teaching rhythm in western music schools and universities.
You will want to learn the six main duple vocabularies: Dobodobo, Dabadaba, Dibidibi, Dubudubu, Debedebe, Dybydyby. Duple rhythm vocabularies are the rhythm staples of countless popular and rock music styles. I recommend you start with the basic Dobodobo, Dabadaba, Dibidibi vocabularies first.
You will want to learn the six main triple vocabularies: Pytyky, Peteke, Putuku, Potoko, Pataka, Pitiki. Triple rhythm vocabularies are the staples of many folk, blues and jazz music styles. I recommend you start your triplet rhythm studies with the basic Pataka vocabulary first.
You will want to learn how rhythmisation handles syncopation and syncopated rhythm. As well as being a discrete, standalone, topic in its own right, syncopation is part of all duple and rhythm vocabularies you will learn. In fact syncopation can be and is described as very specific rhythms.
Syncopation is widely encountered in styles like bossa, latin, gypsy, blues and jazz music traditions for example. Some styles of music are defined by their lack of syncopation, others by low incidence of syncopated rhythm and others by a high incidence of rhythmic syncopation.
In addition you can rhythmise odd rhythms and nested rhythms as you want.
And you can visit the shop and check out any of the resources available to take you further down any rhythmisation direction you want.
You can post any question, insight or revelation to the Rhythmisation Facebook Group, subscribe to the Rhythmisation Youtube channel and tweet, like and share any page on this website.
Thank you for visiting www.rhythmisations.com. I look forward to hearing about your rhythmisation, lead guitar and rhythm guitar triumphs. And about your suggestions for making this a better website for you and your rhythm needs.
Whether you want to keep researching rhythm or start mastering the dobobodobo vocabulary now, welcome and enjoy simplifying your rhythm and lead guitar learning with rhythmisation. As you study each rhythm duration vocabulary you will discover tools that make harmonic rhythm and melodic rhythm easier for you to master.