Pronunciation: beet

What is Beat?

Beat is the basic unit of time in music. The word originally means, “to strike repeatedly,” and when used in music, it is associated with the steady pulse of a song. When listeners clap or tap their toes when listening to music, they usually follow the beat of the song.

Key Takeaways

  1. The beat of the song is the unit of time or meter of the music.
  2. The beat is sometimes interchanged with the terms rhythm, tempo, speed, and meter, although each term does have its own and separate definitions.
  3. The beat is the pulse of the song, which is steady and defines the entire feel of a musical composition.

Understanding Beat

Beat is also closely associated with rhythm, tempo, meter, and speed of composition. There are three main components of music, which are the harmony, melody, and rhythm. The beat, though not exactly the rhythm per se, is strongly associated with the rhythm section. Because of this, the beat is mostly played by percussion instruments in a band or orchestra.

Related Terms

Cut Time Cut time is a time signature that’s also known as Alle Breve, or cut common time. more

Allegro Allegro is a tempo in music that means fast. more

Anacrusis An anacrusis is a note or a series of notes found before the beginning of the body of the musical composition. more

Andante  Andante is a time indicator placed above a piece of music that tells the musician to play the song at a moderately slow pace. more

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