Beats and Bars - Understand how they work in Music

In music production, Beats and Bars are known terminologies, but they remain less understandable to host of musicians and producers. I'm not trying to hype myself or portray myself too knowledgeable about music (I’m still learning like yourself) but I’ve come across producers who don't comprehend the rudiments behind Beats and Bars in music. Having spent much time to research both on and offline, with few sleepless night too, I got to understand these terms in few days and the best part of learning is to impart to who needs similar information.

Beats and Bars are used to measure music. They determine how fast and duration of a song. On a simplified note, let's treat them individually:


This is a very small measurement of music. In any type of DAW where step sequencer is available, four steps is a beat.

A metronome is a basic and very good illustration of a beat. From the first movement of a metronome sound to another is a beat. When you hear that ping, hats or any sound you use in any DAW, the first ping to the second ping is a beat, the second ping to the third ping is a beat, and so on.

If you’d recall, in above statement, I said Beats and Bars are measurement terms in music, Beats determines the fastness of a song.

FL Studio has step sequencer 

Beats Per Minute (BPM) otherwise known as Tempo, is a known phrase in music which is represented by numbers, and used to encode how many beats are in a song in one minute. Depending on higher the number of beats in one minute of a song, comparably, the fastness of the song.

Setting BPM of a song depends on the mood, genre and other factors a musician considers. Most hip-hop songs are between 60-110 BPM, afrobeats are around 100-140, electronic music 120-150 BPM.

Note: BPM does not decide the genre of music, it's just a role in other components that decide class of a song.

Assuming you have a good knowledge of Beats at this level, you should be able to tell the Tempo of a song while listening. It's quite easy like breathing…

What you need is a stopwatch alongside your music player. Starting from the beginning of the drums in a song (drums are easy to attach beats to than melodies) start your stopwatch and count the beats you hear. When your stopwatch counts to a minute, the number of beats you counted is the Tempo of the song.

Alternatively, counting to 60 seconds could be tough, what you can do is to stop your stopwatch in 15 secs after counting the beats, then multiply the number of beats by 15 and by 4.

Number of beats × 15 × 4 = BPM


A Bar consists of four beats. When your metronome hits four times, that's a bar in music production. Similarly, when you count in a match with beats like…..1, 2, 3, 4, that's one bar, another 1, 2, 3, 4, that's two bar and continuously. That's a trick I learned some time ago.

People confuse Bars to a complete sentence in a song, sometimes this method works, other times, no. This confusion arose when people heard rappers saying dropping “16 bars punchline”.

Bar is a very crucial part of music arrangements as a musician because it helps in determining song's duration. Breaking this point down, generally, verses in hip-hop music are 16 bars, while choruses are 8 bars. This idea has been invented by early musicians and widely acceptable till present in the music sphere. The idea is not limited to hip-hop only, other contemporaries like afrobeat, EDM, blues and much more have received this same technique in production.

“Music has no rules,” is a popular term among music producers, and I believe you'd like to explore with your tools but Bars? I don't think it's one you can tweak much of it. Like trying to produce a song with 30 bars as verse or longer is kind of off-grid, remember the listeners and the artists.

Personally, I do my productions as follows

4 bars - Intro

16 bars - Verses

8 bars - Chorus

4 bars - Outro

Dependably, this changes with mood, in situations where bridge and breaks are involved in a project.

When you have the popular mentioned method used in your project, the duration of the song is closed to about 3 minutes, what you can do is to balance the song to a reasonable length by doubling chorus at a point, or adding a bridge.


As I have said much about Beats and Bars, it's clearer that they both complement each another in music.

*Four Beats makes a Bar.

*Beats determines how fast and Bars determines how long a song will be.

*Many beats and bars make a song.

*Beats and Bars are used to measure songs.

*Two Bars of a 65 BPM = One Bar of a song in 130 BPM.

Beats and Bars - Understand how they work in Music Beats and Bars - Understand how they work in Music Reviewed by Moreflip on October 19, 2017 Rating: 5

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