By Carolyn Walter
I can scarcely think of anything more fundamental to musicianship than rhythm. With few exceptions, I find that a solid rhythmic foundation is truly the root of a good performance. A piece played with otherwise flawless accuracy sounds sloppy or even falls completely apart without proper rhythmic control; never mind if the notes were pitch perfect, the dynamics were masterful and the ornamentation was authentic. I feel this is true regardless of ensemble size, style or instrumentation. A choir/orchestra with 100+ members needs to hold together with precision, as does a small ensemble with just a handful. Even an unaccompanied soloist playing in a very free, rubato style must have a strong sense of pulse to deliver her musical message most effectively.
Like so many things in music, the basics of solid time and rhythmic notation and accurate interpretation can be explained in a few hours . . and perfected over the course of one’s entire life. While the elementary process of counting correctly can be summarized in just a couple of pages in a basic theory or method book like the following: