In Part 1 of How To Sing In Time With Music we discussed having rhythm. But singing in time or singing with rhythm is a whole other level of complexity. Technically speaking it is the ability to recognize patterns within patterns and distinguish between them…mathematically.
Don’t worry. You’re not going to need a calculator for this. And yes, this can easily be taught.
Songs are patterns within patterns. Usually a song (in Western culture anyway) is broken up into parts called verses and choruses.
The chorus is the repetitive part of the song that is sung. In Hotel California, it is the phrase that starts with “Welcome to the Hotel California”. The phrases in between that tell the story are the verses. The first verse starts with “On a dark desert highway”.
If you are not familiar with the song Hotel California, look it up on YouTube and see what I am talking about.
Otherwise, pick any song of your choice and decide which phrase is repeated and which are not. I chose Hotel California because it is ranked as one of the most famous song of all time by Rolling Stone. But more importantly for this demonstration, it is a slow tempo (less bpm), and the melody of the chorus and verses are distinctively different.
Verses and choruses are patterns within patterns. They are songs within the song. And generally speaking, each is sung with a different melody or tune.
Within each of those is repetitive rhythmic pattern of beats. This is called a measure.
Now we are dipping into music theory here, but we are not going to get to deep. Just enough for you to recognize the patterns.
Remember. The whole point of this is for you to be able to sing in time. Well, in order to do that you need to be able to recognize that ‘time’ (as it pertains to music as a pattern) exists.
With Hotel California for instance the pattern is a repetitive pattern of 1,2,3,4. With each number counted per beat.
Not that is really important to know, but Hotel California’s tempo is about 76 beats per minute. With that said, either pull up the song on YouTube, and listen to it. You don’t have to listen to the whole thing if you don’t want, but at least the first chorus.
Now do it again, but count out loud with the tempo of the song, 1,2,3,4 repeatedly. Literally say “one, two, three, four”. Keep doing it until you can do it easily.
What you will notice if you are counting with the first chorus is that the numbers fall within the words of the song like this:
Go ahead and listen to the song, while saying 1,2,3,4 and looking at this image.
You will notice there is a pattern within a patter within a pattern.
The largest pattern is the four lines:
Then inside the lines, you have the numbers. Each line is the pattern of two sets of 1,2,3,4. So each line is a pattern of 1,2,3,4 1,2,3,4. And each 1,2,3,4 is its own pattern.
Each 1,2,3,4 is a measure. It is literally a measure of 4 beats. And the measure is the rule that all else follows.
So actually, instead of fitting the numbers in to the lyrics, we need to fit the lyrics to the numbers like so:
That image is a visual representation of what we are striving for when looking to sing in time. It is placing the words rhythmically where they belong in accordance to the pattern of the measure. Each part of the word, as you can see, is somewhere specifically before, on, or after a number.
Now getting into more detail would mean going deeper into more music theory. That we are not going to do at the moment.
The main thing is to simply get used to singing the words and notes where they belong in relation to the tempo of the song and measures. And in Part 3 we will go over how to do that.