Handling Rhythmic Anticipations Part 2

Applying Anticipations to a Song: Anticipating Beats 1 & 3

Let’s take a look at a very simple melody — “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
Twinkle melody-1
The rhythmic time-values consist of quarter and half notes (or crotchets and minims). Now, in order to make the passage sound more exciting, we need to push the beat here and there, i.e. apply anticipations to some of the downbeats.Let’s start with applying anticipations on beats 1 and 3 followed by ties. Listen to how the downbeats on 1 and 3 are being pushed forward, adding motion to the otherwise staid rhythms of the original melody.  (I’ve included a drum track so that you can hear where the beats are being pushed.)

The next example shows the same anticipated rhythms.  However, this time these are followed by rests. There is still a sense of forward motion accompanied by a more intense punctuation due to the shorter durations.

Twinkle melody anticipating beats 1 & 3 rests

Now, let’s combine these two examples, i.e. a mix of beat 1 and 3 anticipations with ties and rests. Notice doing this gives a smoother and more natural feel to the overall phrase — not as draggy as the tied version, or too staccato-ish as the one with the rests.

Twinkle melody anticipating beats 1 & 3 mixed

Applying Anticipations to a Song: Anticipating Beats 2 & 4

Compare the effect of the previous anticipated phrases on beats 1 & 3 with the following ones on beats 2 & 4, starting with the tied version, then the one with rests. These definitely sound more lively than the original, but comparatively they do not possess the extra excitement or sense of urgency of the beats 1 & 3 anticipations.

Twinkle anticipating 2 & 4 ties

Twinkle anticipating 2 & 4 rests

Applying Anticipations to a Song: The Musical Version

Finally, in order to create a musically and rhythmically coherent phrase, we do not necessarily have to anticipate each and every beat of the melody — some beats may remain as they are. Also, although beats 1 & 3 anticipations are preferred over beats 2 & 4, a mixture of both sets done tastefully will also enhance the rhythm of the melody.

Twinkle anticipated mixed-1

Now, check out this simple arrangement!

Hopefully, from these examples, you will fully understand the importance of applying anticipations to musical phrases.  In order to execute these anticipated rhythms accurately, you have to remember to maintain a steady tempo. There should never be any hesitation, dropping a beat, or rushing through the rhythm!

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