The Rhythm Book-Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading by Rory Stuart Review

Today, I am reviewing “The Rhythm Book-Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading” by Rory Stuart that is published by Hal Leonard.  Rory Stuart has written a great beginning book for those of you who want to understand rhythm and notation in a deeper way that I reviewed the other day.  Today I will be writing about his intermediate book which is pretty darned advanced in my opinion.  I just spent the last couple hours working through the book and am very impressed.

Rory Stuart’s Rhythm Book website has this page about who the book would be good for which I thought would be great to include here also:

THE RHYTHM BOOK – Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading

This book is for you if:

  • You have completed THE RHYTHM BOOK—Beginning Notation and Sight-Reading, or you have a very solid command of rhythms on a basic level.
  • You want to learn how to read and write more advanced rhythms.
  • You already play an instrument (or sing) and read music, but want to refresh or strengthen your knowledge of rhythm notation, especially for more advanced rhythms.
  • You compose or would like to compose music or write arrangements for others, and want to be able to correctly notate it.
  • You are a music teacher who has worked through THE RHYTHM BOOK—Beginning Notation and Sight-Reading with your students and want a clear progressive method to teach the notation of more advanced rhythms.
  • You are taking music classes, studying with a private instructor, or are teaching yourself. Don’t worry about your age, what instrument you play (including voice), or what style of music you play; understanding these more advanced rhythms and how their notation works will help you become a better musician. This book has somewhat of an orientation towards jazz and contemporary music (funk, pop, rock, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, modern classical) and includes the syncopation found in these styles of music and the swing feel of jazz.  If you are an aspiring musician in a different style (e.g. folk, singer-songwriter), you can learn what you need to know about rhythm, but the book includes some “extra” rhythmic things not usually found in your style of music. Rhythm is the key to so much in music. When you have read this book and completed the exercises in it, you will understand rhythmic notation, and be able to read and write any rhythm. Please note: once you have completed this book, you will be ready for the other books in THE RHYTHM BOOK series. A natural next book for you is THE RHYTHM BOOK—Rhythmic Development and Performance in 4/4.

The Rhythm Book: Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading for All Instruments

Although the title of the book describes it as an intermediate book for those learning about rhythm and notation, I would consider this an advanced book.  I consider myself a pretty good sight-reader and this book was pretty challenging for me.  This book deals with rhythms involving 16th notes, 32nd notes, 16th note triplets, 16th note septuplets, odd meters, etc…….did I mention it was challenging???

The book comes with 641 audio samples that are invaluable and essential to a student studying this material in my opinion. 372 of the audio samples are audio samples of the rhythmic exercises in the book. 269 of the audio samples are for the student to listen to and transcribe on to the worksheets provided.  All of these audio samples and worksheets are available on the Hal Leonard website for download after you purchase the book.

The Rhythm Book-Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading starts right where the last book left off.  You guessed it, 16th note rhythms.  Rory stresses the importance of feeling each part of the beat as it is subdivided into four parts and gives you many exercises and audio tracks to practice these rhythms with.

If you are not used to 16th note rhythms this first section of the book will be challenging for you.  Rory deals with multiple 16th note rhythms with the goal of making the student comfortable with these more complex patterns.  On page 10 of the book he has written some words of encouragement about how 16th note rhythms aren’t really any harder than eighth note rhythms.  We just have to practice them enough so that we feel comfortable with them.  These words of encouragement are important because if you just look at all the black ink of complex rhythms on each page of the book it is easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged.

The Rhythm Book: Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading for All Instruments

As with the beginning book, Rory gets you involved in transcribing examples on to the worksheets from the very beginning of the book.  Please don’t skip this part!  I hear from so many student who ask “Steve, I ‘m trying to learn to transcribe rhythms and notes but everything is too hard!  How do I start out?”  Well, the exercises in the beginning book and this book are perfect for that.

After the sixteenth note exercises, the book deals with more advanced triplet eighth exercises (continued from the beginning book), sixteenth note triplets and septuplets (groups of 6 sixteenth notes), broken 16th note triplets and rhythms involving ties of 16th note triplets..  Rory doesn’t assume anything about what the reader already knows but covers all the bases.

After all of those topics Rory delves into rhythms in other meters.  He spends a little bit of time in 3/4, 6/8, 12/8, 9/8, and even 15/8 and 18/8.  Rory spends a good amount of time in each section writing about best practices for notation and beaming these multiple rhythms together.  He also gives multiple examples of bad notation for you to look at and learn from.

The Appendices give some great tips and suggestions on practicing the material in the book..  There is also a section specific for piano and drummers as well as a section on notation entitled “Roadmap Language” which deals with repeats, multiple endings, codas, articulation, and more discussion about proper beaming of notes.

The Rhythm Book: Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading for All Instruments

Great job by Rory Stuart and Hal Leonard in creating “The Rhythm Book-Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading”.  It does cover many rhythmic and notation principles so that the student has a firm foundation on which to build further rhythmic studies.  The addition of the audio clips as well as the transcription exercises are a huge bonus that makes this book complete in my opinion.

On a personal note, I wish I had a book like this to work out of back in my college days.  I don’t remember spending a lot of time working on 16th note rhythms back in those days.  I was in for a surprise after college when I started gigging with horn sections and almost all the horn charts were written in 16th notes.  This book would have prepared me to sight-read those charts a lot easier.

If you end up getting the The Rhythm Book: Intermediate Notation and Sight-Reading for All Instruments by Rory Stuart please feel free to come back and share your thoughts and comments with all of us below.  Thanks to Rory Stuart for writing such an in-depth and complete study on rhythm.  Looking forward to the next book in the series to be released……….

If you click on any of the Amazon links above, then click on “look inside” on the left hand side of that page you can see a 20+ page preview of the book.

Disclosure: I received the book mentioned above for free from Hal Leonard in the hope that I would perhaps review it here my blog. If you purchase the book from any of the Amazon links above I will make a small commission that I will use to support this site.  Regardless, I only review saxophone related products that I enjoy and believe will be good for other saxophone players to try also. Steve
Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site

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