What’s The Difference Between a Rhythm And A Beat? by Steve Benedetto

Do you know the difference between a rhythm and a beat?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t because the truth is that not everyone does know that there’s a difference.

Many believe they are one in the same, but they are totally two different things. All music across the globe and in different cultures might label their tunes differently, but one thing that remains the same is a beat and a rhythm. These two musical terms are what all music is made out of.

Beat is the pace, tempo or the timing that it takes to play a particular piece of music. It’s considered the foundation of rhythm and is the repeating and steady pulse in all music. Take for instance when you tap your foot to a particular song. You tap it at a steady pace, so you’re tapping to the beat. Children learn about beats very young by clapping their hand to nursery rhymes.

Now think of the beat as music’s skeleton. After that comes rhythm, which is how you inhabit the beat. It’s basically what happens when you combine different notes with a beat of different durations, which might or might not coincide with the beat. Many times, people confuse the two because the beat is also part of the rhythm. But what separates the two is that rhythm is the accent and length that’s given to a series of notes in a musical piece. When rhythm is combined with pitch a melody is created. And besides the length of notes, rhythm is also created when a piece’s notes are emphasized more than others. By doing this, a new type of rhythm is created within one single piece.

In essence, a music piece’s beat is its unchanging tempo, while the rhythm is a pattern in which a piece’s notes flow.