Rhythm Sounds

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    I noticed in Harp Dreams that a Japanese contestant was able to say rhythms out loud using Japanese syllables. Does anyone know how they are used, is it a system? The only ones I ever learned were ta-ka for two notes, ta-ki-ta for triplets, and ta-ka-dee-mee for four-note-groups.

    What’s neat is how fast she could go in Japanese.


    Yes my jaw dropped when I saw that. I immediately assumed though that the syllables corresponded to the pitches (i.e. a solfege of sorts). Then again, I might have just inferred that because she was singing the notes as she said the syllables.



    I have not yet seen Harp Dreams, but I think I recognize what you are describing. I learned this system in skills classes in my undergrad. We all cursed its existence at the time, but I have actually returned to it frequently since then.

    Quarter Note: Ta

    Two eighths: Ta-di

    Four sixteenths: Ta-ka-di-mi (you’ll notice that the syllables line up)

    Triplets: Ta-ki-da

    Six sixteenths: Ta-va-ki-di-da-ma

    I would love to hear if anyone has any more information!


    Here is a link to a clear explanation of Takadimi:


    I don’t remember that from the film. But it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. If you’ve never heard a French musician solfege a piece of music, I think you’d be equally impressed by that. Until I went to study in France I had never heard anyone solfege the way they do. Pierre Jamet could solfege the opening arpeggio of the Ravel up to speed! I was stunned when I heard him do that the first time.


    If you want a version used at Eastman School of Music, look for “Sight Singing Manual” by McHose and Tibbs, published by F.S. Crofts & Co., New York. There we sat in Theory classes for more than one year, making the conductor’s beat with the right hand, tapping the background of the beat on our desks


    I’m confused already, Pat. I can solfege the CPE Bach Sonata, but I can’t get the right syllables to come out.


    Thank you so much for that link, I will study it. Sometime I will post my syllables for all the half-steps that avoid repetition of vowels.


    I came across a set of rhythm syllables in Kodaly along with chromatic solfege (Do di re ri/me mi fa fi…).


    Tacye thanks for posting- I was just about to mention that too. The kodaly rhythm work is wonderful.

    I had kids as little as first grade reading rhythm patterns accurately with no help, and older kids could read almost anything after a year of instruction.

    I often wonder why Kodaly techniques aren’t more popular in the US.

    I think part of the problem may be that there is so much emphasis here on entertaining moms and dads as opposed to actual music instruction.


    I learned to count in this way: “one-ee-and-a” for sixteenth notes, “one-and-a” for triplets, “one-and” for eighths. These syllables roll off the tongue easily and are easy to remember. A great book for learning hot to read and count rhythm and also to recognize conducting patterns is Phil Perkins’ book “A Logical Approach to Rhythmic Notation”.

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