Ways to see rhythms
July 29, 2009 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I'd like any software or website that helps visualize rhythms.

It could be in musical notation, or flashing lights, colored shapes — anything that helps show meter, syncopation, layered rhythms. I'd be showing these on a screen for kids (K-5) in my music class to look at and clap along with to pick up rhythms. Simple is great; far-out and experimental might be interesting as well.

I'm on a Mac, if it matters.
posted by argybarg to Education (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This mightn't be what you're looking for, but most of the visualisations, e.g. the ones built in in iTunes do some "rhythms visualisation". Winamp has an open plugin structure, so you might something in the list of plugins. Additionally the standard visualisation that comes with Winamp is configurable, so you might be able to configure one or more visualisations that fit your requirements.
posted by oxit at 12:29 PM on July 29, 2009

I don't think there's any better or clearer way to show rhythm than musical notation. Try the lessons at musictheory.net. They are brief and short on examples, but they use flash to provide a clear, concise introduction to rhythm and notation.

I'd probably start with these, then write out a few simple rhythms myself to have the students practice clapping.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:49 PM on July 29, 2009

If you're running Windows on your Mac, you might take a look at Beatcraft.
posted by sageleaf at 12:53 PM on July 29, 2009

This sounds like a job for a drum machine. I just googled for Java drum machine applets and found Monkey Machine, which looks kind of ideal.

Otherwise, maybe something like iDrum or Hammerhead?
posted by substars at 12:54 PM on July 29, 2009

I agree with substars that drum machines are good for making rhythms visually obvious. I taught a class in this sort of thing once and used Redrum, the drum machine in Reason, to demonstrate rhythmic ideas. If you haven't used a drum machine before, you basically get a row of 16 buttons, representing the 16th notes in a measure of 4/4. You select all of the buttons where the drum sample should be played and start it running. Then you can see it move through the measure and light up as it hits the drum on the beats you selected. You can get a demo of Reason here that will let you do this stuff.

But I think it can be difficult to go from learning this way to learning musical notation.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:59 PM on July 29, 2009

Music Animation Machine
posted by phrontist at 1:03 PM on July 29, 2009

BallDroppings It's a javascript game where balls drop at a consistent rate and you draw lines to make them bounce. You can change the rate of dropping. When the balls hit a line they make a tone. It is simple and awesome.

Auditorium Is a Flash game where you direct dots of, um, energy or something into like holes or something (sorry, I'm kind of rushed now) and each hole represents one aspect of an orchestra, so you build up the entire piece.
posted by cCranium at 2:41 PM on July 29, 2009

I remember doing this as a very young child (year 3 in primary school in Australia... so I guess 8 years old?) and the teacher used a musical stave. She went from just using crotchets to quavers. It never got more complex than that, but I remember being fascinated by the musical notation itself.

We started off clapping along, then I think we moved to the instruments of torture ... xylophones. This was all over the course of a few weeks.

I still remember it as a great introduction to music, to the musical score, and it stood me in good stead and was the seed that led me to completing a degree in music.
posted by Admira at 4:33 PM on July 29, 2009

Tonematrix, perhaps?
posted by N2O1138 at 9:01 PM on July 29, 2009

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