MusicNovatory/Introduction/Reference/Comments and Questions/Rhythm/Level 0 Test

The test on Level 0 was lots of fun. Are there any other tests like this on the site?

- First, let us express our surprise. We did not really expect this little test to be popular and we accept your appraisal with great pleasure. Second, there is no reason to limit yourself to the list of melodies which we placed on the site. Try out any other melody (preferably simple) and we'll be happy to check the answer for you. Third, unfortunately, we do not have other tests on the site but you are certainly provoking us to look into it.

It's nice to see that I am not the only one to enjoy your Level 0 test, but let me tell you that "Silent Night" was very frustrating. At one level, I started on the left foot and everything was great, I was ending on the right foot at the end of every little phrase. Then it all came apart, the very last note was on the left foot. So then I started all over starting on the right foot and finished right. How come the end is good but all the rest ends on the left foot?

First, your problem was at Level -1 where you placed the words "Silent night" L(eft)R(ight) rather than RL. The LR disposition is terminal and is usually found at the larger levels (0, +1, +2 ...). The RL disposition is what we call a rebound. It is not terminal and keeps the movement going, and is usually found at the smaller levels (-1, -2, -3 ...).

Second, these RL rebounds occur in many other songs (usually at level -1) but you probably did not notice them: (a) in "Twinkle, Twinkle", the word "Twinkle" appears RL twice followed by "little star" RLR which is terminal; (b) in "Mary Had A Little Lamb", the words "little lamb" appear RL four times followed by "fleece was white as snow" RLR which is terminal; (c) in "Polly Put The Kettle On", the words "kettle on" appear RL three times followed by "have some tea" RLR which is terminal. These rebounds keep the rhythm of the melody moving and, in several songs, keep the rhythm moving until the very last note.

Third, there is a way of knowing whether you are dealing with RL or LR without waiting for the very end and that is to listen to the Harmony while you sing the Melody. In "Silent Night" (if you start R at Level -1) the chord changes will all be on R as they should be (otherwise they would all be placed L as syncopations). If you want to try this out, the chord changes for "Silent Night" are (in the key of C major): C / C, G / C, F / C, F / C, G / C, C-G / C (there are 2 shorter chords at the end). If you hear the Harmony, you will feel the rebounds much better and immediately know that you are on the right track. Good luck!

May I join the gang of Level 0 fans? Your explanations of "Silent Night" really cleared things up for me, but I also had some trouble with Tarara-Boom-Diay. What worked for the end didn't work for the rest. Is it the same kind of problem?

Yes. If you listen to the words "Tarara-boom-diay", you will notice the natural tendency to put the accent (the Beat, Right foot) on the syllable "boom". The fact that the note is dotted and thus a little longer also helps (as any Italian will instinctively know).

With this in mind, at Level -2, where the trouble is, after the one-note pick-up (the syllable "ta"), it will be evident that one starts on the Left (on "ra") to get the "boom" on the next R with the "diay" rebounding on the L. Starting Level -2 on the R would finalize the "diay" on the R and place the accented "boom" on the L where it certainly does not belong. (By "finalize," we mean to make terminal - see the question and answer on "Silent Night," above.)

The Harmony will help here as well. The chords always start on the accented dotted note (starting with the "boom"). At Level 0, you would have one chord on the L, one on the R, the chord changes are C / C, G / C (twice). We hope that this will help.