Steady beat is one of the base concepts that all music is built on. Also known as the pulse, the steady beat is the consistent beat that counts for the quarter note in every measure of each song. It's the beat pacing that dictates the BPM (beats per minute) and therefore dictates the tempo of a song. If your song is very slow, your beat or pulse will come slowly. In a fast song, the steady beat or pulse ticks along quickly and is often hard to keep up with without practice.
Many early child development experts say that learning steady beat can also teach kids how to walk, play sports, and learn to speak and read with a smooth cadence, therefore boosting communication skills. It also plays a part in the receiving end of communication as well. According to The Journal Of Neuroscience, "People who are better able to move to a beat show more consistent brain responses to speech than those with less rhythm". Of course, learning the concepts of keeping a steady beat is essential when it comes to learning music and learning how to play an instrument.
While recognizing the steady beat, which again is 99% of the time going to be the quarter-note pulse in each measure of a song, helps you to find the tempo of a song, rhythm is the next step that often subdivides that steady beat in thousands of different ways depending on how the songwriter or composer created the music. A rhythmic phrase over the course of a steady beat can include quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, eighth notes, rests, and more in a variety of different combinations.
Many people will explain someone as a person that "has rhythm" or doesn't. Most of us learned the concept of a steady beat early on, so we all have a basic concept of a steady beat. What many people lack is the natural ability to subdivide those beats into common rhythmic phrases.
As an example, if you're in a crowd of people at church and clapping your hands to the steady beat, a person that "has rhythm" or has a natural feel for subdivisions and rhythmic phrases (including notes and rests) will be able to sway and clap on beat 2 and 4 in a 4 measure bar, which is a natural, sonically pleasing place to clap in a church setting. On the other hand, someone who doesn't have as much rhythm would have a hard time swaying on the steady beat and would be inclined to clap on the wrong beats, often beats 1 and 3.
Most steady beat exercises are designed for kids, but, don't be ashamed to practice internalizing steady beat concepts as an adult. It may be more difficult to digest as an adult, but that doesn't mean it's impossible for you!
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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