Welcome to this beginner harmonica lessons series! These lessons are intended for all those who have recently connected with the world of harmonica or have just commenced studing music, as sooner or later they are destined to address the terms such as ‘tempo’, ‘notes and pauses’ or their subcategories etc.

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Online harmonica school - Free lesson on time signature, tempo, notes and pauses

Learning to read a score is a fundamental element required to execute any piece of music and although no harmonica learner can defy its importance but it becomes even more crucial for those who wantto play any kind of musical instrument they wish for. In this lesson, we’ll discove rchief subdivisions of musical measures via interactive videos, by executing exercises that I’ve devised for you, like I always do.

Let's start off by defining what actually a time signature is? A time signature is a value that represents how the beats are organized in one measure (or one bar). It tells us how large a measure is and how many beats or pulses it can accomodate. A steady time signature means that each measure sustains for equal duration of time, which in turn permits you to arrange the notes in a repetitive but easy to follow rhythmic pattern.

The time signature is expressed with fractions such as 2/4, 4/4, 3/4 and so on, and it is notated on the scores.

Within musical measure, the space is distributed between notes and pauses, and their total value must always correspond to what may be expressed as the ‘time signature’. For example: if we work in 4/4 and there are only 2 notes of 1 quarter in a measure, we must, therefore, insert a pause of two quarters in the bar since the total must be 4. Another example: if the total duration of the notes in a measure is 3.5 quarters, we ought to fill the missing eighth with a 1/8 pause.

Let’s now see the main temporal subdivisions that affect the notes, taking basetime as 4/4.

Whole notes: we can insert 1 of these notes in one measure.

Half note: we can insert 2 of these notes in one measure.

Quarter notes: we can insert 4 of these notes in one measure.

Octave notes: we can insert 8 of these notes in one measure.

Sixteenth notes: we can insert 16 of these notes in one measure.

Each of the above notes is half the length of what is described immediately above it.

The same reasoning is justified for pauses which, like notes, may have different duration.

Concerning intermediate length values such as 1 quarter and a half, the symbol of point is used. This symbol, placed next to a note, indicates that its duration is increased by half. For example, if I place a point next to a 1 quarter note, this note will last for 1/4 + 1/8 or 3/8.

Notes and pauses lenght table

In this lesson, I want you to conduct some exercises to practise how notes and pauses of different lengths can be played correctly. Among these exercises, you’ll also practise the ‘triplets’, as a particular formation of notes that are often found difficult for beginner level harmonica players. I’m sure, after finishing this lesson, many of you will feel more confident while playing their favourite tunes or reading musical scores.

Here are the exercises I’ve especially designed for this peculiar harmonica lesson:

Exercise 1: First you’ll play a whole note in this exercise, then 2 half notes and later 4 quarter notes.

Online harmonica school - Time signature lesson tabs 1

Exercise 2: You’ll practise quarter notes with alternating pauses in this exercise.

Online harmonica school - Time signature lesson tabs 2
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Exercise 3: We’ll practise eight notes in this exercise and then we’ll alterneate them with pauses.

Online harmonica school - Time signature lesson tabs 3

Exercise 4: We’ll play triplets in this exercise.

Online harmonica school - Time signature lesson tabs 4

Exercise 5: The last exercise is about practising different ‘note and pause’ combinations.

Online harmonica school - Time signature lesson tabs 5

In the following video, you can practise the whole harmonica licks sequence:

I am sure, you must have joyously practised with me today. I hope to see you in the next free lesson which you may find on

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