Rhythm Class 12

  1. Semiquavers

  2. Semiquavers in Jazz

  3. Rhythm Segments 15 - 20

  4. The Remove one Beam Trick

  5. Rhythm Patterns 289 - 324

  6. Practice Material

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RC 12.1 - Semiquavers

The value of a semiquaver is one sixteenth of a semibreve (whole note), or half of a quaver.


A semiquaver is printed with a black note head, a stem and a double tail. The tail is always at the right side of the stem, regardless whether the stem is pointing up or down.


For ease of reading groups of semiquavers have their tails attached as a double beam.

Semiquaver names in other languages


Shorter notes
Notes shorter than semiquavers are used in classical music but rarely occur in Jazz and other popular music.
Each additional tail added to a stem halves the value of the note.
Therefore :


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RC 12.2 - Semiquavers in Jazz

The idiom of Jazz has always been defined by rhythms dominated by swing quavers.

However as the instrumental skills of Jazz players improved (reaching the levels of top classical performers), especially from the Swing and Bebop eras onwards, semiquavers became more and more included in the Jazz language, adding yet another level of rhythmic excitement to its repertoire.
Famous examples include Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan and many others.

In Jazz semiquavers typically occur :

  1. as a short embellishment of a single note, either within a phrase, or at the end of a phrase or a piece (cadenza), or

  2. as a shift into higher gear - a stream of semiquavers over one or more entire musical phrases.
    This second usage became very common from the Bebop era onwards.

In improvisation the use of semiquavers requires good instrumental skills combined with a degree of fluency and intimate knowledge of scales and chords to match the semiquaver tempo. This is easiest achieved by the use of scale runs, arpeggiated passages and digital patterns.
The ability to include semiquavers in an improvised solo marks a Jazz musician who is entering the mature stage of his/her musical development.

Regardless of the style, swing or straight quavers :

Semiquavers and semiquaver passages are always played straight!

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RC 12.3 - Rhythm Segments 15 - 20

Rhythm Segments 15 to 20 are the six possible 1-beat segments containing semiquavers, or semiquavers with quavers or with dotted quavers.

Press on any Rhythm Segment to hear its Audio.
Semiquavers are always played straight.


Shown below are some varieties with rests.
For segments 16a and 17a the use of a quaver rest is fine, but for segment 18a two semiquaver rests are preferred to better visualise the rhythm.


Clap or play a long with each of above demos to become thoroughly familiar with each one.

The above demos are in the same style as in Lesson 3
Each one plays the rhythm segment on beat 1 and 2 of each bar, while the metronome clicks like this :

  • First 2 bars = count in : 1   3   1 2 3 4

  • Next 4 bars = a click on each beat

  • Next 8 bars = a click on beats 1 and 3 of each bar

  • Next 8 bars = a click on beat 1 of each bar

  • Next 12 bars = a click on beat 1 once every 2 bars

  • Next 16 bars = a click on beat 1 once every 4 bars
Listen carefully, tap with your foot and try to clap or play the rhythm exactly at the right moment each time.

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RC 12.4 - The 'Remove one Beam' trick

If you have difficulty reading a rhythm with semiquavers I suggest you use the following trick to decipher the rhythm.

Simply take one beam of all notes.
This doubles the length of each note (and therefore halves the original tempo), but the relative rhythm stays in tact, and makes it much easier to read and understand.

  • semiquavers become quavers

  • quavers become crotchets

  • crotchets become minims

  • minims become semibreves
  • sixteenth notes become eighth notes

  • eighth notes become quarter notes

  • quarter notes become half notes

  • half notes become whole notes




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RC 12.5 - Rhythm patterns 289 - 324

Rhythm Patterns 289 - 324 are recorded straight, and at a slower tempo than previous tracks.
Patterns 301 - 324 are quite tricky. So be patient and keep practising. Sing or clap these patterns first until confident, only then use your instrument.

Clap and play Rhythm Patterns 289 - 324 first at a very slow tempo (about 50 bpm) until you can play them confidently without any mistakes.
Then :

  • Increase the tempo to improve your reading and playing skills

If you have trouble reading a particular pattern write the beat positions (numbers and plus signs) underneath it in pencil, but rub them out as soon as you can play the pattern with some confidence correctly.

Use the Circle of Fifths play-a-long tracks in swing style.

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RC 12.6 - Practice Material

Metronome   Play-a-Long tracks
Circle of 5ths   Dominant 7th chords
Rhythm Segments 14-20    
Preparatory Exercise 6 - Demo
Rhythm Patterns 289-300 - Demo (Pop)
Rhythm Patterns 301 - 312 - Demo (Pop)
Rhythm Patterns 313 - 324 - Demo (Pop)

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Copyright © 2004 - 2008 Michael Furstner (Jazclass). All rights reserved.