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Preferred Rhythm Names

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

I start this article off with a quote from Wikipedia

The French "Time-Names system" originally used French words. Toward the middle of the nineteenth century the American musician Lowell Mason adapted the French Time-Names system for use in the United States, and instead of using the French names of the notes, he replaced these with a system that identified the value of each note within a meter and the measure.
  • Whole Note: Ta-a-a-a

  • Half Note: Ta-a

  • Quarter Note: Ta

  • 2 Eighth Note: Ta Te

  • 4 Sixteenth Notes: Tafa Tefe

I was introduced to these time names as a young person and I still use them today. The only difference is four sixteenth notes I was taught (or it has become over the years) tafi-tifi. They are simple, effective and can be fun too.

Use the time names for the shortest note in the piece. In the Musette in D piece the best time name to use for an accurate position on the beat is Ta-fi-ti-fi

Video to follow


Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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