Here’s an Exercise to Help You Hear the Rhythm of 3/4 or “Waltz” Time More Easily

For 3/4, or waltz time, people tend to consider the first beat of each measure as the only strong beat, followed by two weak beats on two and three. Turn off your metronome and play the chord progression in Example 2. Start by tapping your foot on every beat for a while, then tap on just the first beat of each measure. You should notice a certain lilt to the music that is impossible if you treat each beat equally. If you listen closely to waltzes in various genres and cultures, you’ll often notice that the musicians intentionally rush or lay back on either of the two weak beats at different points in each piece. This would be pretty hard to do if each were thought of as equal.


This lesson is an excerpt from Rhythm and Strumming Basics.