Rhythm Ear Training

Rhythm ear training

Along with melody and harmony, rhythm is part of the core foundation of all music. Whatever the genre, era, instrument, player or context of music - it's the rhythm that provides the driving force to keep our ears tuned in and satisfy our deep instinctive appreciation of music more than anything else.

Because rhythm is such a fundamental aspect of music, ear training for rhythm is relevant and can be hugely beneficial to musicians and music fans from all corners of the musical universe. From the bass player providing that funky bassline in a band and the drummer keeping a rock-steady beat, to the composer looking for a catchy riff to perk up a section of his score, or the passionate dancer who wants their performance to be so tightly attuned to the backing music the audience can't help but sit up and take notice, rhythm ear training is key.

Series

Bass Tone

The bass guitar and other bass instruments are often classed as part of the 'rhythm section' in a band or ensemble, and players of bass instruments are relied on to provide the rhythmic bed on which the rest of the music depends. Our Bass Tone series helps bass players find the optimal sounds for their instrument in different situations, and helps other musicians and music fans to appreciate the variety of ways the bass contributes to music.

Rhythm Ear Training Resources

Ear Expansion Ear Training Course

Ear Expansion: Rhythm

Learn how ear training can improve your natural rhythm with the Rhythm module of the Ear Expansion course.

Recommended Metronome Apps

Rhythm Music Theory

Watch a short video introducing the music theory behind rhythm:

Topics Related to Rhythm Ear Training

tempo ear training

The overall pace of the rhythm of music is called the tempo and no study of rhythmic ear training would be complete without also developing a reliable and accurate sense of tempo.

bass ear training

Along with percussion instruments, bass instruments are probably those most commonly associated with rhythm. While most instruments contribute primarily in terms of melody and/or harmony, bass instruments straddle the pitch and the rhythm camps, contributing as much through when they play notes as by which notes they play. Whether you're a bassist yourself or not, ear training for bass will improve your understanding of its essential contribution to most music.

Percussion ear training

The percussion family of instruments features all the most purely rhythmic of instruments. If you're interested in developing your sense of rhythm, stripping away the pitch and harmony aspects of music can make devoted ear training easier - and focusing your attention on percussion instruments is a great way to do that. You can delve into percussion ear training with a look at the rock drum kit, the orchestra percussion section, simple hand-held instruments - or even just the clapping of your hands!



Interactive rhythm ear training

Here's a fun game from Theta Music Trainer which tests your ability to connect notated rhythms with the sounds you hear: Flash Rhythms

Sorry, this game requires the Adobe Flash Player and a browser with JavaScript enabled. Get Flash

For a more advanced challenge try Rhythm Puzzles. If you've enjoyed these games, we recommend the full Theta Music Trainer.

Theta Music Trainer

Questions about Rhythm Ear Training



Articles about Rhythm Ear Training:

How to Improvise on Saxophone, Part Two

How to Improvise on Saxophone, Part Two

Want to improvise on saxophone? In this tutorial you’ll learn how, step by easy step. In Part One we covered the basic concepts of improvisation and in Improvising in different styles: Jazz we covered some of the things which make jazz soloing different to...
Talking Rhythm: Series Recap

Talking Rhythm: Series Recap

In this Talking Rhythm series you have learned two different methods for counting out notated rhythms. In the count chant method you learned how to use simple numbers and syllables like “ah” and “ee” to count out notation. You also learned...
Talking Rhythm: The Kodály Method

Talking Rhythm: The Kodály Method

Are you struggling with counting out basic rhythm? Do you wish that you could understand a rhythm on sight? Does sheet music confuse you? Fortunately there is a way to translate playing by ear into understanding written rhythms that is easy to use whether you are five...
Counting Triplets and Compound Rhythms

Counting Triplets and Compound Rhythms

In this series so far we have learned the basics of counting quarter notes, 8th notes, and 16th notes. Now let’s talk about some more complex rhythms that you might run into. Once you internalize these rhythms and practice them again and again, you will find...
How to Start Sight-Reading Music in Choir

How to Start Sight-Reading Music in Choir

Today’s article is a guest post by Evan R. Murphy from SightReadingMastery.com, a fantastic website dedicated to helping you learn to sight-read music in an easy and enjoyable way. Look out for more information about this useful website coming here soon, but for now...
Open Your Ears to 5 Kind of Soft Songs

Open Your Ears to 5 Kind of Soft Songs

Let’s continue our active listening practice with another podcast episode from 5 Song Set. This week with Episode 77, I decided to treat my ears with some bitter-sweet soft music. If you’re feeling tense, or indeed if you’re already feeling a bit mellow, this is the...
Talking Rhythm: Counting 16th Notes

Talking Rhythm: Counting 16th Notes

Ever wondered how to count 16th note rhythms? Have you seen the notation for a complex syncopated rhythm and wondered how you could possibly play that? The first step is learning how to count out notation. While this may seem daunting at first, the reality is that...
Improvising in different styles: Jazz

Improvising in different styles: Jazz

Improvisation is a key ingredient of jazz that sets it apart from other genres, and often intimidates beginners into thinking they don’t have what it takes to be a great jazz musician. But remember that improvisation, even in jazz, is a skill that can be learned. In...
Improvising in different styles: Rock

Improvising in different styles: Rock

In the last two articles on improvising I covered the basics of music improvisation and then provided you with 6 steps to start improvising on any instrument in any genre. Improvisation is featured in virtually all styles of music but a majority of people relate it to...
Talking Rhythm: Counting 101 (2, 3, 4)

Talking Rhythm: Counting 101 (2, 3, 4)

Have you ever wondered how to play a rhythm from score notation, or write down a rhythm you’ve heard? In this Talking Rhythm series you will learn two easy and effective ways to “talk” out rhythm patterns from notation. In this article we’ll...
Open Your Ears to 5 Songs Full of Life

Open Your Ears to 5 Songs Full of Life

We can’t get enough of the 5 Song Set podcast! New to this series? This podcast features five songs in every episode on a particular theme, and it’s the perfect way to stretch your ears in a new direction and expand your horizons as a musician. Any time you need fresh...
Talking Rhythm: Introduction

Talking Rhythm: Introduction

Are you having difficulty understanding rhythm notation? Sometimes a complicated string of syncopated 16th notes and 8th notes may seem too difficult to comprehend – let alone transcribe them, or sight-read from notation. Don’t worry! You are not alone if you...
How To Start Improvising Music in 6 Steps

How To Start Improvising Music in 6 Steps

In my last article I talked about the basics of musical improvisation, the three foundational blocks you need to put in place before you start improvising. So now that you are informed on some music theory basics, you’re exploring a variety of musical styles and...
How to Hear and Create Time Signatures

How to Hear and Create Time Signatures


What is the role and importance of time signatures in music? The time signature is one of the most important regulations of a piece of music. It basically describes how the pulse of music works. It regulates the tempo at which the music is played. In music time...
Rhythm Tips for Identifying Music Genres by Ear

Rhythm Tips for Identifying Music Genres by Ear

Imagine you have just discovered a new kind of music. You love what you’ve heard and want to hear more, but you don’t know what the genre is called to be able to search for it. Don’t worry – there is solution for this. With the tips in this article and a bit of...
How to Improve Your Rhythm and Timing

How to Improve Your Rhythm and Timing

Having a reliable sense of rhythm is a hallmark of any good musician and it’s one of the things which can immediately distinguish an amateur from a pro. Our sensitivity to rhythm when listening to music is subtle but powerful, and any inaccuracies quickly give...
Holding Your Own Part in a Vocal Group or Choir

Holding Your Own Part in a Vocal Group or Choir

In music the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – or is it? This saying may be true when talking about how a song or piece of music was written. A composer or song-writer’s aim is to often create a piece of music that is elevated through different parts...
Open Your Ears to Afro-Latin music

Open Your Ears to Afro-Latin music

When I first arrived at California State University Los Angeles to start my graduate studies, I was a performance major. My piano teacher, Dr. Paul De Castro, was the head of the Afro-Latin music studies department and quickly encouraged me to join the program. The...
Open Your Ears to the Contradanza

Open Your Ears to the Contradanza

Have you ever heard of a Contradanza? Or perhaps you’re familiar with its French counterpart, the Contredanse? Read on to discover how this interesting musical form evolved in Cuba and continues to evolve today… The Contradanza is the evolution of the...
Get Rhythm: Learn Common Beats

Get Rhythm: Learn Common Beats

Learning common beats is a lot like learning the ABCs of music. Learn how to recognize common rhythmic patterns for popular musical styles like rock, pop, jazz, and Latin music, and play back these rhythms using your listening skills with the easy examples below....
Get Rhythm: Notate It!

Get Rhythm: Notate It!

Learning how to write down music in traditional notation can seem difficult, often requiring a few years of good ear training practice. But it needn’t be so hard! Read on to learn some of the basics of rhythm and notation, find great musician resources, and test...
Get Rhythm: Finding the Beat

Get Rhythm: Finding the Beat

Do you struggle with finding the pulse of a favorite song, trying to figure out a drumbeat for your mix, or notating a complex rhythm?The Get Rhythm series will help you develop your rhythmic skills using ear training and musicianship exercises meant to help everyone...
Get Rhythm: Study Syncopation

Get Rhythm: Study Syncopation

So, you are listening to a hot jazz trio or your favorite metal band when you notice that the beat seems to be jumping all over the place. While the band seems to know where they are going, you are wondering, “Where’s the beat?” The chances are that the band has left...
Five Essential Aural Skills for Guitarists

Five Essential Aural Skills for Guitarists

Have you seen artists collaborating freely and confidently on stage and thought, “If only I could do that just by following my instincts…”? There are two ways you can achieve this. One is intense practice of scales which will develop your creativity...
Music Production: Mixed 3 Ways

Music Production: Mixed 3 Ways

In this audio tutorial, you will learn how to use your ear training skills in music production and mixing for collaborative projects. Hear how to apply simple tricks in editing, rhythm, and overall feel to improve your music. Finally, check out some helpful tips for...
Bass Ear Training: How-To

Bass Ear Training: How-To

Bass players get a hard rap among musicians.Just four strings? It must be easier than guitar.Playing from tab rather than sheet music? You must not be smart enough for “real” notation.Whatever. One thing that bass players often have better than anyone else...
The Power of Listening (Chris Tarry)

The Power of Listening (Chris Tarry)

Today we welcome pro bassist Chris Tarry of christarrylessons.com to share his perspective on the vital importance of listening skills for great musical performance and playing well as part of a band.   There’s perfect pitch, good relative pitch, chordal...
Life After Ear Training: A Drummer’s Tale

Life After Ear Training: A Drummer’s Tale

I would be lying if I said that ear training came easily to me. Like most percussionists I knew in college, rhythm exercises and sight singing were a breeze, but trying to transpose Mozart after three listens seemed like a torture specifically designed to punish those...
Music & Life: The Back-to-School Edition

Music & Life: The Back-to-School Edition

It’s back-to-school time! Music educators and parents have been getting started on another exciting school year. Need some fun music activities for your classroom? Check out some of these great online resources on ear training, kid’s songs, karaoke and more! Teach...
Music & Life: The Power of Rhythm

Music & Life: The Power of Rhythm

Rhythm guides your lives. From the steady rhythm of the heart pulsing life-giving blood, to the breathing in and out of oxygen necessary for survival to the simple left-right-left-right marching pace as you walk along your path, rhythm governs each second that tick,...

Ear Training – On The Go!

There’s never been a better time to take up ear training. More than ever before, it’s possible to train your ears when you’re on the go – giving you one less excuse for not practicing, and helping develop your ears even faster. Now you can use...
If it ain’t got that swing…

If it ain’t got that swing…

What if Axl and Slash had hung out with Fats Domino? Or Metallica met Miles Davis? A new music processor called The Swinger is looking to find out, by adding a swing to any song you throw at it. Get ready to hear those classics in a whole new way – and as the...

Wii Music: Ear Training Through Play!

Make no mistake: Wii Music is a lot of fun. Where else can you get together with your friends and play “Sukiyaki” on steel drums and sitar, or create a full orchestral jam session in space? Wii Music offers so many nuances of play that small children can...
Get Your Groove On: Beat Basics

Get Your Groove On: Beat Basics

Whether you want to pick up a new musical instrument, impress your date with some serious dance moves, or simply clap in time, learning about rhythm will give you the tools you need to get your groove on and make some serious music. To understand rhythm, you first...

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