How Many Beats In A Bar

There are a couple key takeaways to understand the BASICS of rapping to a beat. First you need to understand what a beat is, and you need to understand how many beats in a bar. 

In general everyone of you has a basic metronome and rhythm built inside of them. You're heart. It is constantly on beat and you don't even have to think about it. If you think you don't have rhythm count to your heart beat.. There you go, you now have rhythm. 

Breathing is also a sub-conscious thing we do as humans that is a repetitive and consistent pace and rhythm. We don't even think about it but it is built into our bodies. PLUS most of you have listened to thousands of hours of music. That makes you an EXPERT on rhythm, music and hip hop in general. 

How Many Beats In A Bar? 

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There are 4 beats in a bar. A beat is a moment of time. In hip hop, numbers are used to represent beats. Go ahead and count to 4 right now... 1-2-3-4. BOOM you just counted out a bar. A bar is the representation of a period of time in the song. Every bar has 4 beats in rap. 1-2-3-4. That is one bar. Then it repeats again and starts a new bar. This continues throughout the whole entire song. Some instrumental tracks are faster and some are slower but you can always deconstruct it by counting to 4. This is important because this is the backbone of how to rap to a beat.

How Do I Know When To Count 1-2-3-4? 

Rap beats are made of drums. Kicks and snares. In hip hop, drum sounds fall on each beat. Kicks are softer, quieter, and lower pitched drums. The land on the 1 and 3 beats. Snares are sharper, louder and higher pitch (Think of a clap sound) drums. They fall on the 2 and 4 beats.

This is universal throughout hip hop as that's what makes the hip hop sound. That's the basic structure of all rap music. Obviously there are variations but this is where it all starts. So when you count 1-2-3-4. It would be kick-snare-kick-snare. Repeat.

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How Many Bars In A Song? 

Generally in rap, instrumental tracks start with a 4 to 8 bar intro and sometimes starts with a chorus. But usually it doesn't start with rapping right off the bat. After the intro, rap songs usually go into the verse.  Most of the time verses are 16 bars. Which mean 16 counts of 4. When someone says “write a sixteen”, they are referring to 16 bars. There are usually 2-4 verses in a complete song. Here's a 16 bars rap example. Usually what rappers do is show the end of the bar with a slash like this/ 

1. not making tracks for the fashion industries/ 

2. most raps are on the backs of my napkins and receipts/

3. I put passion into beats, establish inner peace/

4. Cuz for me it's leaving scenery while travelling the streets/

5. and for now i'm limited by insufficient funds/ 

6. So the only ink i'm getting's when they fingerprint my thumbs/ 

7. the only instant hit is when I twist a blunt/ 

8. so i'm imprintin my images into them with a symbolistic tongue/

9. Sit up front and see me string the lines like the B.B King of Rhymes/

10. it's an easy thing for me to spray graffiti in your mind/ 

11. Leave your T.V bling behind when you rappin/

12. For these emcees the greedy seems to find an attachment/ 

13. As for me, this is real mic ability/

14. It's real life that's given me this real tight delivery/ 

15. It's the real type that seals my stability/ 

16. I'm realer than the real shit I feel like an ill emcee/ 

After the verse there are two ways you can get to the hook/chorus. Sometimes there is a bridge of 2 bars. So instead of going RIGHT from the verse into the chorus it gives you two bars of time to make the transition smoother.

There are usually 8 bars in a chorus. The majority of rap songs will have an 8 bar hook. Sometimes artists will do 4 bars and then repeat it to make up the 8 bars. You have total freedom within the framework here to do whatever you want. 

Obviously this can be altered for whatever creative pursuits you like but the general structure of a complete sounding song is this. 4 bar intro - 16 bar verse - 8 bar chorus - 16 bar verse - 8 bar chorus - 16 bar verse - End. Though this can change depending on the beat makers structure. Every rap song in existence can be broken down into bars. 1-2-3-4 repeated throughout the track.

What is 4/4 Time Signature In Rap

4 beats/4 bars. That is all my friend. This means full ideas are generally complete every 4 bars. Almost all major pop, rap, top 40 stuff is alllllllllll in this time signature of 4/4. There are many ways to be creative around the base structure. BUT this is the most basic, raw form of hip hop music, and where everything derived from. 


Overall I hope you learned how many beats are in a bar, how to count beats and a little about song structure. Let me know if this was easy to understand or check out some my other articles, they might give you some inspiration.