The biggest thing about syncopation is understanding how to subdivide. For those of you that don’t know, syncopation is when a note falls on the off-beats, instead of on the main beats 1-2-3-4. It happens most often when an eighth note falls on beat 1-2-3-4, and the next note that follows is happening in the gap of the beat instead of on the beat. Try to envision this situation:
Quarter note, Eighth note, Quarter note, Eighth note, Quarter note
This measure adds up to 4 beats which satisfies common 4/4 time. But do you notice that it isn’t organized like a typical measure that has all the notes on beats 1-2-3-4? The second quarter note is falling in-between the measure, because of the previous eighth note.
To understand how to count this, I’m going to show you how to sub-divide. Look at how many beats each note has. This is a different way to write what I presented above.
1, .5, 1, .5, 1 = 4
It’s pretty hard to count .5 right? But what if you were to double everything above.
2, 1, 2, 1, 2 = 8
This is much easier to count and is considered sub-dividing. You are doubling everything to make counting each individual part easier. So when you are in a situation where you have syncopation, you could double the speed on your metronome so that every click will represent one of the numbers above.
Click Click — Click — Click Click — Click — Click Click
Does that make sense?