Beaming Notes

Beaming Notes

Grade 1

Beaming notes is something that you’ll come across in all of music.

It makes the music far easier to read and allows you to quickly understand the time signature of a piece of music.

Beaming notes is when notes with flags are grouped or beamed together by joining their flags together in one straight line.
This beaming looks like this:

Beaming Notes

Rule of Thumb for Beaming Notes

Beaming notes makes no difference to the sound of a piece, it simply makes the music easier to read, and allows for an easier understanding of the rhythm of the piece.

There are two rules of thumb for beaming notes:
1 – They never cross a bar-line;
2 – In 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 time (all the time signatures needed grade 1) notes are beamed together to show the crotchet beats:

Beaming Notes Rules

Exceptions to Beaming Notes Rule of Thumb

However, 2/4 and 3/4 can also beam quavers across the entire bar, thus meaning the beams ignore crotchet beats:

Beaming notes across a whole bar

4/4, however, can only beam across half of the bar, and the beam cannot cross the centre of the bar:

Half bar note beams

This is because with the time signatures 2/4 and 3/4, the first beat of the bar is a strong beat, whilst the following beats are weak beats.
However, with 4/4 the the first AND third beat of the bar are strong beats, whilst the second and fourth are the weak beats.
The beaming of notes represents these stronger and weaker beats, and consequently a beam never continues across onto the 3rd beat.
This can therefore act as an extension to the second rule of thumb, in that notes can be beamed according to the crotchet beats, OR according to the strong or weak beats in a bar.