Music lesson rhythm section arrangement

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The rhythm section explained

The music lesson rhythm section is comprised of the instruments that normally drive the rhythmic aspect of any composition or song. They play a pivotal role in just about every contemporary composition in one way or another.

Traditional rhythm sections would have comprised drums, bass, guitar and piano, but with the advent of electronic instruments, this collection has expanded to include keyboards and synths. Although the sounds may have changed from the original construct, the methodology behind the way these instruments work together is largely unchanged.

In a contemporary setting, it’s no surprise that the kick or bass drum in most dance tracks maintains a ‘4-to-the-floor’ feel in order to hammer home the beat.

Instruments music lesson rhythm
The drum kit consists of three basic elements that provide the mainstay of any groove: the bass drum (or kick), snare drum and hi-hats. In one self-contained unit, it provides everything needed to power a song along: kick to provide a solid foundation to the time signature, snare to break up each bar on the second and fourth beats, and the hi-hat to sub-divide the beat further into 8th or 16th notes.

Other elements within the kit include cymbals and toms, but these are generally used for embellishment or to indicate a change in the song structure.

Before the advent of the electric bass, the bass part would traditionally have been played by an upright double bass. Today we have many synths, both hardware and software, which can also provide this component.

Guitars and keyboards share a very similar role within a music lesson rhythm section. In 70s-derived funk, the guitar is crucial, providing chordal elements which drive forward in 8-th and 16-th divisions.

Keyboards often provide a similar role rhythmically, particular after the advent of the Hohner Clavinet or Fender Rhodes. In a more contemporary setting, many guitar parts have been replaced by synth sounds, which work in a very similar way.

By arrangement music lesson rhythm
When starting an arrangement, it’s often a good idea to put your drums and bass in first. You may choose to loop or you may choose to program your own parts or mix-and-match with existing loops. When programming your own drum track, keep the individual elements of the kit on separate tracks. This will make it easier to adjust the arrangement if you decide to change it later.

Now move on to the bass part, but before laying anything down. Bass sounds can appear very strong in one register of the keyboard, but really lose impact in another. Work out the lowest note of the phrase and make sure that is doesn’t sound weak in that register.

Try to match some elements of your baseline to the kick drum that you've already laid down. Bass lines have far more impact if the notes you want to emphasize within a phrase are matched to a beat of the phrase, but that’s not always the most appropriate.

The space of sound
It’s time to add keyboards or guitar. It is often a good idea to leave a little space between the respective parts for one to interplay with the other, if you want to play both instruments. Alternatively, the guitar could follow the rhythm of the track – much the same as the hi-hat – while the keyboard plays sustained chords.

Arranging the music lesson rhythm mix
Now it’s time to consider where to place those instruments in your mix. A basic concept to bear in mind when mixing is that lower-frequency instruments should be panned centrally in the mix. This works effectively in the majority of situations.

Work on mixing the kick drum and the bass first to ensure they are panned dead center. The bass will probably require a little compression to give a good foundation to the mix. Add the other percussive elements one by one until the entire kit in place. The snare often tends to sit in the middle of the mix; too, while hi-hats sound best when panned to one.

If you have a guitar part, balance out the hi-hat by placing it on the opposite side. Too much rhythm on one side of the mix won’t give the impression of space that you probably want. By the same token, the keyboard will probably be less rhythmic, so offset that against the guitar part so that they are on opposite sides.

The mix down
Mixing is a good example of a task that requires an objective, focused approach. As you become more skilled at arranging and mixing a music lesson rhythm section, you will begin to get a solid, tight sound.

You can pick up many tricks and techniques from listening closely to the type of music you want to make. You will have to train your ear to isolate the various parts in an overall mix. Listen to as wide a range of music as you can to broaden your appreciation of different approaches.

Be brave and experiment. Keep copies of your work as it progresses, so you can come back to it later. Never rush the processes.

Related Tech Terms:

Rhythm section
Collective name for the instruments that comprise the driving force behind a band: drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and percussion.

The process of distributing the chords and melody of a song across a set of instruments. This is sometimes known as orchestration, although this is linked more with classical music.

A term often used by drummers to refer to the kick/bass drum playing on every beat of the bar.

Drum score
A drum part notated on a standard musical stave. The kick is positioned on the bottom line, snare on the middle line and the hi-hat on the top line.

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