Music Arrangement Basics: Rhythm

In this six week series on arranging, I aim to help break down arrangement to six simple elements that I hope you can apply to your productions. These blogposts are meant to be short, simple and easy to digest with an average reading time of five minutes or less for the average producer who has not had any formal music education.

Here are the topics that we are going to cover over the next 6 weeks:

  1. Pitch
  2. Rhythm
  3. Dynamics
  4. Timbre
  5. Articulation
  6. Level of Activity


1. What is Rhythm?


  • Rhythm is the arrangement of sounds as they move through time.
  • Specifically, each note and chord have a given time where sound is on and sound is off.
  • This time value, in music, is known as rhythm notation or note length.
  • Note lengths are relative to time signatures.
  • Common-Time-Signatures-278x300
  • Common time signatures are 4/4, 2/2, 3/4 , 6/8.

2.  What does this mean in arrangement? 

  • Rhythm is one of the most important aspects of music and it’s everywhere.
  • Most listeners are attracted to songs with a strongly crafted rhythm and groove.
  • Most listeners would not be able to tell a bad note or a wrong chord, but most would be able to tell when the rhythm goes awry.
  • Rhythms are usually written in patterns.  A mastery of common rhythm pattens can be great use to you as an arranger.
  • Check this website out to learn more about developing rhythmic patterns.

3. Practical Applications

  • To improve your rhythm vocabulary, try writing down or notating your favorite songs. Do this for as many songs as you can and try to find a similar pattern and use that same pattern in your music arrangements.
  • Browse through Splice Sounds to get inspired by different drum and percussion loops for rhythmic ideas.
  • Ask a friend – When in doubt if you created a “hot beat,” just ask a friend. If he’s able to groove along with it, you’ve successfully created a groovy beat.

Explore royalty-free sounds from leading artists, producers, and sound designers:

April 18, 2016

Reuben Raman Product Marketing Manager at Splice