Time and Rhythm 1

This is a Boston Conservatory course offered through Berklee Online.


Authored by Matt Sharrock


Course Code: OCMUS-105

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


This course is designed to enhance your relationship with time by strengthening your sense of internal pulse, aurally analyzing rhythmic structures in music, and by examining the foundations of rhythmic notation.

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The first half of the course focuses on building rhythmic fluency without the use of standard musical notation. Through weekly sessions that incorporate movement, vocalization, and body percussion, you will learn to internalize pulse, leading to rhythmic accuracy and confidence in ensemble and solo performance situations.

The second half of the course is an in-depth exploration of standard rhythmic notation from the ground up. Building on the skills gained in the first half of the course, we will explore increasingly complex material in simple, compound, and complex meters.

Throughout the semester, you will complete performance, listening, and dictation exercises to synthesize what you have learned and hone your skills. Performance exercises will give you the opportunity to perform with greater confidence and awareness. Through listening exercises you will develop the ability to navigate musical landscapes of varying complexity both as a listener and a performer and dictation exercises will enable you to learn to categorize and label rhythmic material.

By the end of the semester, you will be able to internalize and perform subdivisions, hemiolas, syncopations, polyrhythms, and rhythms in changing meters in solo and ensemble situations while remaining relaxed and rhythmically accurate.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Maintain a steady pulse in duple, triple, and quadruple subdivisions
  • Perform simple hemiolas and polyrhythms in duple, triple, and quadruple subdivisions
  • Aurally recognize simple, compound, and complex meters
  • Accurately perform notated music utilizing standard rhythmic devices in simple, compound, and complex meters
  • Fluently notate standard rhythmic devices in simple, compound, and complex meters
  • Utilize a metronome as a practice tool in a variety of settings - on the beat, off the beat, every other beat, on four beats / off four beats, etc.
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Lesson 1: Internal Pulse

  • Basic Terms
  • Utilizing Biorhythms: Breath and Motion
  • Subdivisions: Duple, Triple, Quadruple
  • Assignment 1: Subdivisions and Dictation

Lesson 2: Meter: Simple and Compound

  • What is Meter on a Macro Level?
  • Macro-meters in Real Music
  • Vague Rhythms in Real Music
  • Identifying How Beats Are Grouped
  • Meter at the Micro-Level: Simple Meter vs. Compound Meter
  • Comparing Simple vs. Compound
  • Shifting Subdivisions with a Steady Beat / Shifting Beat with Steady Subdivisions
  • Assignment 2: Percussion and Dictation

Lesson 3: Shifting Accents and Simple Hemiolas

  • Shifting Accents
  • Hemiolas and Compound Meter
  • The Ewe People, Steve Reich, Ghana, and Hemiolas
  • Reich, Hemiolas, and Perspective
  • Simple Hemiolas (2:3, 3:2, 3:4, 4:3)
  • On Beat vs. Off Beat
  • Assignment 3: Body Percussion Performance and On Beats/Off Beats

Lesson 4: Syncopation and Larger Hemiolas

  • Larger Hemiolas in Duple, Triple, and Quadruple Subdivisions
  • Syncopation: The Art of the Irregularly Regular Offbeat
  • Hemiola as Tempo Shift (2:3 and 3:4)
  • More Challenging Hemiola Patterns
  • Assignment 4: Performance and Dictation

Lesson 5: Complex Meter (5, 7, 9)

  • Expanded Hemiolas across Shifting Subdivisions
  • Complex Meters: Hearing Music in 5, 7, and 9
  • Workshopping in 5 and 7
  • Performing Complex Meter in a Group Setting
  • Practicing with a Regular Metronome
  • Practicing with 7s
  • Performing 7s with a Steady Pulse
  • Assignment 5: Performance and Dictation

Lesson 6: Shifting Meters over a Steady Pulse / Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

  • A Slippery Slope—The Aural Ramifications of Shifting Meters
  • The Metric Construction of Music
  • Recognizing Shifting Meters
  • Stravinsky’s “Soldier’s March” from L’Histoire du Soldat
  • “Marche du Soldat” from L’Histoire du Soldat (Complete)
  • Stravinsky’s “Sacrificial Dance” from The Rite of Spring
  • The Shifting Meters of Stravinsky’s “Sacrificial Dance”
  • Sacrificial Dance from The Rite of Spring Finale (Complete)
  • Dictation: Complex Meters—5 and 7
  • Assignment 6: Midterm

Lesson 7: Building Blocks of Rhythmic Notation/Simple Meter and Associated Time Signatures

  • It’s All Ratios
  • Beaming
  • Dots
  • Rests
  • What’s in a Time Signature?
  • Simple and Compound Meter
  • Complex and Irrational Meter
  • Simple Music in Simple Meter
  • Notating Note Values
  • Assignment 7: Performance and Dictation

Lesson 8: Compound Meter and Associated Time Signatures/Advanced Metronome Techniques

  • Advanced Metronome Techniques—Assigning Different Note Values
  • Creative Metronome Usage: Subdivisions
  • Creative Metronome Usage: Making Gaps—Larger Note Values
  • Score Analysis: Slightly Harder Music in Simple Meter/Agogic Emphasis
  • Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7
  • Vocal Writing
  • Notating Bach Feedback
  • Simple(ish) Music in Compound Meter
  • Simple Simple
  • Dictation Feedback
  • Assignment 8: Performance and Dictation

Lesson 9: Tuplets in Simple and Compound Meters / More Advanced Metronome Techniques

  • Advanced Metronome Techniques—Offbeat Clicks / Mechanical Duo Partner
  • Using the Metronome as Practice Offbeats
  • Offbeat Sixteenth Notes
  • Offbeats in Compound Examples
  • Score Analysis: Slightly Harder Music in Compound Meter
  • Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4
  • Reynaldo Hahn, “L’Heure exquise”
  • Square Peg / Round Hole—Triplets (The Common Tuplet)
  • Triplets and Triple Subdivisions
  • Dictation: Simple Compound
  • Dictation Feedback
  • Assignment 9: Cumulative Performance

Lesson 10: Triplets and Faster Subdivisions in Compound Meter / Syncopation in Simple Meter

  • Triplets and Smaller Subdivisions in Compound Meter
  • 32nd Notes in Compound Meter
  • Navigating Notated Syncopation
  • “Story” by John Cage
  • Dictating Triplets
  • Dictation Feedback
  • Assignment 10: Your "Story"

Lesson 11: Complex Meters and Their Associated Time Signatures

  • Support Beams: Notating and Interpreting Music in Complex Meters
  • Counting Music in Complex Meter
  • Advanced Metronome Techniques #3—Complex Meter over Steady Pulse
  • Score Analysis—A Little Bit of Barber and Bartok
  • Syncopation vs. Tuplet
  • Assignment 11: Performance and Dictation

Lesson 12: Shifting Time Signatures—An Introduction

  • Counting Counts—Shifting between Simple Meters
  • It’s All Dashes and Triangles (Shifting between Simple, Compound, and Complex Meters)
  • Score Analysis—Jonathan Bailey Holland’s El Jaleo
  • Score Analysis—Revisiting the "Sacrificial Dance" from The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky
  • Simple Music in 5 and 7
  • Dictation Feedback
  • Assignment 12: Final Assignment


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills

  • This course does not have any prerequisites.



  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or multi-track audio editor/recorder. Free options, such as GarageBand (Mac), Cakewalk by BandLab (PC), or Audacity, are acceptable.
  • Students are required to create notation and submit it in PDF format. Options include:
    • Notation software (recommended option), such as Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, MuseScore (free), etc.
    • Handwritten notation captured by a digital camera or a scanner can be used in lieu of notation software.


  • Metronome (hardware or software/app)

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Matt Sharrock

Author & Instructor

Hailed as one of “Boston’s best percussionists” by I Care if You Listen, Matt Sharrock is a versatile marimbist, percussionist, and conductor who tirelessly champions the music of living composers. As half of the bass clarinet/marimba duo Transient Canvas, they have commissioned over 80 pieces while touring extensively in the United States and abroad. From 2013-2020 they served as Music Director and conductor for Equilibrium and are a founding member of the mixed quartet Hinge and the Boston Percussion Group. In demand as a chamber musician, Matt is the resident percussionist with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston and has performed with the Lydian String Quartet, Boston Musica Viva, Sound Icon, the Lorelei Ensemble, and Dinosaur Annex, among others. As an orchestral percussionist, Matt can be heard regularly with the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, the Orchestra of Indian Hill, and the Grammy-winning Boston Modern Orchestra Project. They have recorded on Beauport Classical, BMOP/sound, Innova, Navona, New Focus, and Ravello record labels. They teach music theory and liberal arts at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music. Matt proudly endorses Marimba One and Encore Mallets. For more information, visit www.mattsharrock.com


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