Firstly, we need to take a brief look at the definition of a bar. It is simply described as a segment of time in a piece of music. Within these brief segments are a certain number of beats. Most music has a regular amount of bars and beats. Why would someone need to keep track of these bars? They are essential to the rhythm and “feel “of the song. If the bars are erratic, it can make for a very unpleasant listening experience. In most Hip-Hop and Rap music, counting bars is crucial to getting the flow of the music “correct”. You don’t need to be a musician to be able to hear when something is “incorrect”. Therefore, by counting the bars of the song, you will be able to figure out where the rhyme or “punch” of the lyrics should be delivered. In “1, 2, 3, 4” the punch would hit 4 and this would be a bar. The editing and displacement of these bars is known as syncopating the music, to get the flow just right.
Understanding the bar and beat count of your music will essentially give you more insight into the very structure of the sounds you live by.
If a typical rap song has 16 bars (complete sections of music – half a line) and 4 beats per minute, you should be able to start listening and counting the bars and beats in the music you listen to normally. It is all there for you to learn from. An excellent breakdown of how to listen for bars in music can be found at Rap Techniques. The faster or slower the tempo of a song will determine how many bars are included. Most music will stick with the 4 beat per bar method. It is tried and tested. Obviously you can get as creative as you like but if you are starting out, it may be prudent to keep it simple.
The simplest method of counting bars is to use numbers and assign values to each beat. In “1, 2, 3, 4” count the first bar as 1, and go from there. It will take some getting used to but you will soon be counting bars to all the music you enjoy. If you need to use your hands or fingers to snap and clap along then go for it. You can train you hear to pick up the flow of music and even before learning how to read it, you can master how to hear it.
This knowledge is vital when creating beats, especially to music like Rap and the best Hip-Hop beats for sale. The way you manage your bars and beats will be crucial when creating the rhythm of your sound. Rhythm is everything. You will soon be able to hear if a beat needs to be tweaked or syncopated. When working with various sounds like Snare drums and Kick drums, you will find the knowledge of beats will give you an edge. It is all about putting it all together and the only way to improve something is to practice it. Get counting.