This is an interesting little exercise for building rhythm patterns.

To start with, let's consider the different ways that we can split a bar of 2/4 into notes, using only minims, crotchets and quavers (1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 notes). To keep things simple, we'll ignore smaller divisions of notes, dots, ties, etc. Using just these notes, there are 5 different ways of filling a bar of 2/4:

This is fairly straight forward. A bar of 2/4 can hold a full minim (a), or the minim can be split into 2 crotchets (b). Either the second (c) or first (d) crotchet can be split. Finally, the crotchet on each beat is split to give a bar containing 4 quavers (e).

What we can do now is try combining these - if we add any two of these 2/4 bar patterns together then we get a bar of 4/4. First of all, let's take the (a) bar and see what we get when we combine that with patterns (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) in turn:

Next, let's try combining pattern (b) with each pattern in turn:

We can do the same thing for pattern (c)...

...and using pattern (d)...

...and finally for pattern (e):

That gives us a total of 25 patterns as bars of 4/4.

You could try using any of these 4/4 patterns as a rhythm pattern. As an exercise, try playing each pattern a number of times against a metronome. Another useful exercise is to try playing through all 25 bars in sequence.

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