Rhythm is an element of music that involves the organization of the length of time given to music notes in relation to each other. The duration of one note as compared to other nearby notes of different durations produces variance of note values in a song. Sometimes these values change when you least expect them. These changes can make playing music so much fun and exciting.
Listen to the first part of Haydn's "Surprise Symphony"? Where is the surprise? What happens to make it a surprise?
Go to your piano and make up a song with a change in the length of time of different notes that makes it into a surprise.
Note lengths in a piece of music can help to distinguish between different styles of music based on the relationship of the notes to each other throughout the piece. An example is syncopation in jazz and calypso when unexpected emphasis is placed on a short note value on a strong beat and then a long note value on a weak beat in a musical pattern.
Different values of notes with each half the time of the one before it from longest held to shortest are: whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, thirty-second notes, sixty-fourth notes. You will find a combination of some same and some different lengths of notes in a piece of music.
Have you ever heard or played a song where every note is held for exactly the same amount of time? Is it fun to hear or is it really boring? Think about it.
Music can be read more easily when dividing the music into measures each with the same number of beats by giving it meter also called time signature.
Go from "Rhythm" to "Meter"