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.
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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.
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