The Long and Short of It (A)

The Long and Short of It (A)

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The Long and Short of it contains two basic units of rhythm – the quarter note (crotchet) and the eighth note (quaver). An eighth note is half the length of a quarter note, and so twice as fast.

  • Quarter Note: long … long … long … long …
  • Eighth Note: short-short … short-short … short-short … short-short …

Dividing a rhythmic unit into smaller, equal rhythmic units is called ‘subdividing’. The smaller unit is called the 'subdivision'.

When we subdivide, it’s really important that we chop the note up into equal parts. Exactly equal! When sharing the cake, we both want an equal slice!

And so, in The Long and Short of it, the quarter notes need to last for exactly one beat, and the eighth notes exactly half a beat, making two equal eighth notes in each beat.

In order to make this subdivision work, we need to think about how we use the bow. How do we keep the sound consistent? How do we keep everything organised and in control?

If a note is half the length of another note, then we need to use half the amount of bow for it ... makes sense, no?! So, if its 50cm of bow for the quarter notes, then its 25cm of bow for the eighth notes … whole bow for the quarter notes, half the bow for the eighth notes! This is called ‘bow division’ – how much bow we use depends on the time values of the notes.

Dividing the bow successfully, so that it is proportional to the note values, means that we can keep the sound nice and consistent. We can maintain the same speed of bow movement, even if the notes get longer or shorter.

The Long and Short of it has five different combinations of rhythm patterns and string crossings. Pay lots and lots of attention to the string crossings. Sometimes we cross strings on a quarter note pattern, sometimes on an eighth note pattern, and so the speed of the crossing will be different. Don’t let the string crossings disturb the accuracy of your rhythm, the integrity of your subdivision, the steely solidity of your pulse!!

Once you’re feeling confident with each pattern, try playing and saying “long” or “short” out loud at the same time!