This is a *much* simpler approach to learn both rhythm and time signatures.

Something **whole** can be divided into equal pieces. In music, we mostly divide into 4 or 3 equal pieces. These pieces are of equal time, or duration. Whenever we divide the time, we use a new **note type** that looks different, to show us that time change.

Depending on how many times we divide a **whole**, we can have 4 or 3 counts.

/ / / / | Four |

/ / / | Three |

Let's break up the whole thing! First, into 4 equal pieces:

Let's focus on the **whole** that's divided into 4: / / / /

Four **equal** divisions each get an equal amount of time, from the whole time that we're given. If we use only one of these divisions, there are three left. If we use two, there are two left. If we use three, there is one left. If we use them all, the whole time is used playing a whole note, or resting a whole rest.

We can quickly subtract what we use, or add what's left, from our whole time that's divided into 4 equal pieces.

The next part simplifies the duration of note types.

The name of the **one** division we use is a **quarter** (one fourth). This is like using a quarter out of a dollar. We still have three quarters left to use. One division of four is a quarter note or quarter rest. We're either playing or resting for one quarter of the whole time we're given (1/4).

The name of **two** of the divisions we use is a **half**. This is because we still have another half of the whole left. We could call the half 'two quarters', but we want only **one** note (called a half note) to show that we use half the time playing or resting, out of the whole (any note has a rest counterpart with the same time value).

As a fraction, two out of four is 2/4. To simplify, each number in our fraction can be divided by 2, bringing us to 1/2, like:

Two out of four is 2/4.

Divide each by 2:

2 on top, divided by 2 is 1.

4 on bottom, divided by 2 is 2.

Now 2/4 is 1/2.

We've used 2 and have 2 left: // // This is two sets of two, or two halves. Also, two halves make a whole, because two halves is two divided by two (2/2), which is one, or a whole.

//// | whole (in 4) |

// | half |

/ | quarter |

For a **whole** that's divided into 3 equal pieces, we use the same notes:

/// | whole (in 3) |

// | half ( still called a half note, although it's 2/3 of a whole, in the count of 3) |

/ | quarter (still called a quarter note, but it's 1/3 of the whole, in the count of 3) |

It is confusing that the **name** of the note doesn't match a 3 count time duration. The same visible note appears for different counts, whether 3 or 4. And only 3 quarter notes make up the whole 3 count duration: / / / (quarter, quarter, quarter).

Therefore, 3 quarters out of 3 beats is 3/3, or three divided by three, which is one (a whole).

Hold the note's tone until its count is complete.

In the count of **4**, a whole plays for four equal counts. A half plays for two counts. A quarter plays for one out of the 4 whole counts.

In the count of **3**, we play a half note with a special dot that makes it 3 counts long. We use this dotted half note to represent a single note that's held for 3 counts.

//^{.} dotted half (3 counts)

Finally, as a result of playing only **part** of the full (whole) count, some of the count is left over. During that leftover time period, we can add any notes or rests that fill that time amount. As long as we equal the whole time, such as 4 or 3, we can play any kind of divisions with half or quarter notes, or rests.

Recommended reading: The Dot , Sheet Music

The next page frames our rhythm counting within measures and notes of sheet music.