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The Downbeat

What, Where and How Can You Locate the Downbeat and Pulse of a Song.

PUBLISHED: Apr 25, 2017 UPDATED: Apr 25, 2017VIEWS: 10 • LESSON CODE: UL301

Instruments: ukulele music ANY Subjects: rhythmstrums

The Downbeat

Locating the downbeats, pulse, and especially beat one is really important in music.

Tracking the downbeats on a strumming instrument like ukulele is really important as it relates to the stroke direction and weak and strong part of downbeats and upbeats. These strong and weak parts of the beat need to be reinforced and telegraphed in order for listeners and fellow musicians to play and follow along.

Finding and Reinforcing the Beat and Pulse

First, the *Pulse* of a song is what we perceive to be the downbeats. The *Beat* are the actual downbeats. Think of Bluegrass and old timey Country music where the rhythm instruments is doing a boom, chick, boom, chick type of strum. This is called cut time and the pulse is typically felt as two beats per measure. When in fact the downbeats are actually four beats per measure with the pulse being felt as two - your are tracing beats one and three.

Here are a few steps and exercises for creating a solid foundation for strumming, finding the beat (the downbeats) and the pulse.

  • Counting evenly "1 and 2 and 3 and 4" and - do this over and over. Clap you hands or tap your foot on the numbers 1 2 3 4.
  • Grab your ukulele and with your index finger for a bright sound or your thumb for a more mellow sound, strum all the strings or any chord you know on the 1 2 3 4 count.

With any of the above drills or exercises someone listening should be able to find the downbeats and follow or play along. Even if your not playing on every beat. The beat - the downbeats are readily identified.

Keeping Your Place in Songs

One hard thing to do when tying to incorporate new chords you've learned along with new strums, etc... - is to not get lost in a song and keeping you place.

Here is a great exercise I do with my students It is to only play the chords on beat one, then only on beat two, then only on beat three and finally only on beat four. This exercise really forces you to learn how to keep you place and actually count where you are. Start with a slow tempo and increase the tempo as you get more proficient.

Variations include play only on two of the four beats. Try using only one of the Level II Modular Phonetic syllables in each measure. ( See this lesson's related lessons )

End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for The Downbeat at this time.

Glossary of Music Terms • Updated: Jan 18, 2019

A glossary of common music terms. Common and not so common music terms. Knowing the language and terms used with music aides in your own understanding when exploring your music potential.

Music Basics • Updated: Feb 10, 2014

This series of lessons lays the foundation for the understanding of how music works - The Principles of Music. The lessons include information on understanding intervals, steps, enharmonic equivalents, the major scale, key signatures.

Reading Music on `Ukulele Series - Primer • Updated: Jun 19, 2014

There are a few things in music that students and players avoid. These are things like learning to read and knowing the notes of their own instrument. It is hard on guitar - but not so hard on ukulele. With the right guidance and plan of attack. IT IS EASY.

It is really quite easy on a uke. Starting with natural notes in in the open position you can finally check off the Reading Music to do item.

Learning to read standard music notation is really, really easy.

Related Books

Related Books for The Downbeat at this time.

Modular Phonetic Rhythm, The Foundation and Workbook 1
Updated: Nov 9, 2015

Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm. Eliminating many inefficient aspects of rhythm education, Modular Phonetic Rhythm streamlines the traditional educational approach, resulting in a reflexive reaction to rhythm.

Related Songs

Related Songs for The Downbeat at this time.

Any Song Will Do Updated: Dec 7, 2015

This is not really a song, but simply saying that for the purposes of a lot of the lessons and lesson series on this site ANY song will do for exploring the lesson's material and concepts presented in the lesson.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for The Downbeat at this time.

Modular Phonetic Rhythm by Chuck Anderson Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm. Eliminating many inefficient aspects of rhythm education, Modular Phonetic Rhythm streamlines the traditional educational approach, resulting in a reflexive reaction to rhythm.

Music Basics Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Lessons in the General Music series. The principles of how music works.

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