So you may be thinking to yourself, “I know how to read and play notes and rhythms, but how do I make it sound more interesting?” That’s where dynamics, articulations and tempo come in. Dynamics tell you how soft or loud the music should be played; articulations tell you how short, long or strong a note should be played, and tempo tells you how slow or fast to play the music. Most sheet music will have more than just the notes and rhythms; it will have symbols and terms for dynamics, articulations and tempo as well. It is like learning a whole new language. We’ve outlined the basics to help get you started.
Rhythm is one of the most important elements of the musical language, arguably even more so than melody and harmony. Try this: without singing, clap the rhythm of “Happy Birthday.” I bet you could ask someone what you are clapping and they would be able to guess “Happy Birthday.” Now try singing “Happy Birthday” without rhythm. I don’t mean with the wrong rhythm; I mean completely without any duration or strong and weak beats. You can’t do it. That is why rhythm is so essential to the musical language.