Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm. Eliminating many inefficient aspects of rhythm education, Modular Phonetic Rhythm streamlines the traditional educational approach, resulting in a reflexive reaction to rhythm.
“Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a fresh and innovative approach that helps bring the abstract into focus, examining the core of the real, linguistically aligned processes actually involved in reading, understanding, interpreting, and executing rhythm.”
Arthur Bernstein, Senior Lecturer, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Evolution in Music Education
The difficulty in the study of rhythm has always been its abstract nature - and its mathematical implications. Contrary to popular opinion, being good at math does not guarantee or even indicate the potential for musical proficiency. My observations over the years have supported the theory that musical tendencies are often the outgrowth of communication skills, such as language. Music engineers often show high aptitude in math but not necessarily musicians.
Rhythm has traditionally been taught as a function of math, particularly fractions. Though accurate, this approach has missed one of the most fundamental facts of rhythm. Rhythm is a language and is, as such, phonetic not mathematical. The average student exposed to the math orientation of rhythm has rarely absorbed the essence of rhythm and rarely even becomes proficient at reading rhythm. This often becomes a lifetime barrier to the developing musician.
There is a strong correlation between the ability to spell and strong fundamentals in phonics. Phonetic skills allow us to “sound out” words, even words that we’ve never seen before! We understand the principle of sound as it applies to phonetic combinations. The “sight” of the letter combination triggers a reflexive “sound” reaction. If rhythm could be broken down into phonetic units, then rhythm would become an easily recognized aural language.
Using the word umbrella as a model, we count 8 letters but only 3 syllables. If we attempt to pronounce this word as 8 sounds u-m-b-r-e-l-l-a, the sound is one of a speech impediment. But if we pronounce it as 3 syllables, we get um-brel-la. This is considerably easier to pronounce as 3 sounds rather than 8 sounds. Modular Phonetic Rhythm approaches rhythm with this syllable orientation.
As in most large systems, the fundamentals are surprisingly limited but the combinations and applications are seemingly endless. Consider how many numbers we have, yet they are all based on the numbers 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 How many words are there in the English language and yet we only have 26 letters in our alphabet!
Modular Phonetic Rhythm is based on 24 basic rhythm syllables. These rhythm syllables vary from 1 note to 6 notes and from 1 beat to 4 beats. It is divided into 4 levels based on the subdivision of the beat. Ties and rests are approached as extensions or displacements respectively.
Universal counting is a non-traditional approach to rhythm counting. Counting has typically been linked to time signatures. If a piece were in common time, the count would always extend to 4 by the end of each measure. The half note for example, could be counted 1-2, or 2-3 or 3-4 depending on its location in the measure. In the universal counting system, a half note is always counted 1-2 regardless of its location in the measure. This concept is extended to every unit syllable in the modular phonetic system.
In the long run, counting systems are relatively unimportant because, at more advanced levels, the counting is eliminated in favor of the eye - ear- hand reflex. The eye sees the rhythm, the ear hears it and the hand reflexively executes it.
Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant development in teaching, learning and applying rhythm.
About Chuck Anderson
As an AUTHOR, Chuck has been published by several companies. Publications include: Music Pursuing the Horizon, An Improvisational Approach to Rock and Blues Guitar, Reflections for Guitar, Modular Phonetic Rhythm, Master Picking and The 6 Secrets of Guitar Fingering including Scale Charting. Other books include: Mastering the Modes, The Private Music Teacher’s Guide, Hi Tech Guitar and Advertising Music - The Business, A series called Unlocking the Guitar features topics such as learning the notes on the neck, strums and tunings. He also developed and was featured in an 8 hour video series called Harmonic Tonalities, the Songwriter’s Master Classes.
Contact Chuck Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org