Beats and Bars (Beat Structure)

It's more important than you realise

Check out Chapter 13 of the book for in depth detail on structure

Beat structure is one of those odd things, that if you know about beats and bars, is very obvious, but if you don't - can seem completely alien. There's an entire chapter of DJing for Dummies dedicated to how tunes build through beats bars and phrases (and then into Verses and Choruses) - but as much as it makes sense to me - you may want a little more help in the form of some audio/video examples.

So, in this page, there's a few video clips, which start from the very basics of what makes a drum beat, and what to listen to - all the way to the structure of a tune. I'm going to add in some more (I'll especially add in a more obvious, short tune for the full example) but for the time being, I hope that these make sense.

I will preface all this by stressing once again, that beat-structure is a foundation. Something you have to know about, and something which MUST become second nature. When you start delving into structure, it helps to count out the beats and the bars, and build up your knowledge from the very bottom. Though this foundation is vital so you can develop your skills - you should only need to do this for a week or so, to get used to the patterns of the tunes your play.

It's extremely important that needing to actually count the beats is something you get past. Beat-counting is NEVER something you should need to do regularly - if you need to stand in a DJ booth and count each beat and bar as it passes - you are still at a very early development level in your DJ career - and should spent time to go through the process, listen to your tunes, listen to all the indicators (cymbal crashes, the melody, lyrics, crescendos (buildups) etc) that let you know where you are in the tune, and then start to use your knowledge of structure, combined with your memory of the tune - to let you know where you are.

Seriously, I can't stress this enough - learn about beat-structure by counting beats, and listening to the music - but don't learn how to be a DJ by counting beats. You need to use your brain, your memory, your skill, and your talent.

You need Quicktime in order to play these videos. Quicktime 7 is better (as the files are smaller, and quicker for you) but as long as you've got QT6, you'll be ok. If you don't have either, go to to download a copy.

Beat Structure Video Clips Download Section

Video Downloads Just click on the links, the videos will open up in Pop-Up windows (remember to turn your speakers on too!)

TitleQuickTime 6 Version (smaller)QuickTime 7 Version (better)
Drum Sounds:
This first clip shows the name of each drum as it hits, so you know what to listen for
Counting beats:
Notice how beat 1 in the bar is used to keep track of what bar you're counting
Counting bars
Just the bar numbers increasing. Count the beats in your head
Beats + Bars
Combination of last two examples, except with text counting the bars as well as the beats
Adding in another line, which shows how the phrases (groups of four bars) are created and progress
Full Structure
Using the counting methods above, this clip goes through an entire tune, and gives guideance on what to listen out for

Video Downloads Just click on the links, the videos will open up in Pop-Up windows