by Conrad Albrecht
This article walks you through an example (Bridge Over Troubled Water) of using a
OK, let's dive in. On the right is a
First notice the major features of the picture: The broad horizontal band across the upper half of the picture, that looks like red paint spatters over green spatters, is the sound of the audience clapping. The thin horizontal lines (mostly green, or red for the loudest ones) in the lower half of the picture are musical notes (piano in this case).
Next, let's relate a prominent feature of the picture to the actual sound.
Magenta is the loudest color in a
We know these three notes are the same repeating note because they're all
at the same horizontal level, not moving up or down. Rest your mouse on any of
these notes (in
Now let's figure out how fast these three notes are. Place your mouse on
the beginning (the left edge) of the 1st note (in
Now listen to the first couple of seconds of Bridge (using your
favorite MP3 player program;
Whenever you "find the beat" in music, you're finding a regular repeating time pattern that the notes fit into. When you listen to music, you do this without thinking. To see the beats in a spectrogram, you have to learn to see these same patterns with your eyes.
To find rhythmic points in the music, look for the beginnings of
notes and for vertical lines marking percussive sound at a particular
instant. Here are the rhythmic points I see in the first few seconds of
Bridge. Notice that I've switched
Now I need to fit a beat to these rhythmic points. In this case most of the rhythmic points are the same time-distance apart (about 0.35 sec), so this is an easy example. Based on the sound of this song and my experience with musical beats in general, I decide that this 0.35 sec time distance represents a half-beat rather than a whole beat. So here's how I see the first few beats, labeled here with the conventional "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &" counting pattern:
So, in this article we identified notes and beats in a
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