Note value

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Parts of a note

In music notation, a note value is the amount of time of a note. It is shown by the shape of the note, including the notehead, stem, and flags. Unmodified note values are fractional powers of two, for example one, one-half, one fourth, etc.

A rest stands for a silence of an equal amount of time.

List[change | change source]

Note Rest American name British name Relative value Dotted value Double dotted value Triple dotted value
Music-octwholenote.svg Maxima rest.svg large, duplex longa, or maxima[1][2]
(occasionally octuple note,[3] octuple whole note,[4] or octuple entire musical note)[5]
8 8 + 4
= 12
8 + 4 + 2
= 14
8 + 4 + 2 + 1
= 15
Longa.gif Longa rest.svg long[2][6][7] or longa[8]
(occasionally quadruple note[9] or quadruple whole note)[4]
4 4 + 2
= 6
4 + 2 + 1
= 7
4 + 2 + 1 + 1/2
= 7+1/2
Breve.gif Breve rest.svg double whole note,[10] double note[11][12][13] breve 2 2 + 1
= 3
2 + 1 + 1/2
= 3+1/2
2 + 1 + 1/2 + 1/4
= 3+3/4
Whole note.gif Whole rest.svg whole note semibreve 1 1 + 1/2
= 1+1/2
1 + 1/2 + 1/4
= 1+3/4
1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8
= 1+7/8
Half note.gif Half rest.svg half note minim 1/2 1/2 + 1/4
= 3/4
1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8
= 7/8
1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16
= 15/16
Quarter note.gif Crotchet rest alt plain-svg.svg or Crotchet rest plain-svg.svg quarter note crotchet 1/4 1/4 + 1/8
= 3/8
1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16
= 7/16
1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32
= 15/32
8thNote.svg Eighth rest.svg eighth note quaver 1/8 1/8 + 1/16
= 3/16
1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32
= 7/32
1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64
= 15/64
Sixteenth note.gif 16th rest.svg sixteenth note semiquaver 1/16 1/16 + 1/32
= 3/32
1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64
= 7/64
1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64 + 1/128
= 15/128
32nd note.svg 32nd rest.svg thirty-second note demisemiquaver 1/32 1/32 + 1/64
= 3/64
1/32 + 1/64 + 1/128
= 7/128
1/32 + 1/64 + 1/128 + 1/256
= 15/256
64th note.svg 64th rest.svg sixty-fourth note hemidemisemiquaver 1/64 1/64 + 1/128
= 3/128
1/64 + 1/128 + 1/256
= 7/256
1/64 + 1/128 + 1/256 + 1/512
= 15/512
Quintuple-croche tête en bas.svg 128th rest.svg hundred twenty-eighth note semihemidemisemiquaver[14][15] (rare) 1/128 1/128 + 1/256
= 3/256
1/128 + 1/256 + 1/512
= 7/512
1/128 + 1/256 + 1/512 + 1/1024
= 15/1024
Semigarrapatea.svg Silencio de semigarrapatea.svg two hundred fifty-sixth note demisemihemidemisemiquaver[4] (rare) 1/256 1/256 + 1/512
= 3/512
1/256 + 1/512 + 1/1024
= 7/1024
1/256 + 1/512 + 1/1024 + 1/2048
= 15/2048

Shorter notes can be created theoretically ad infinitum by adding further flags, but are very rare.

Variations[change | change source]

Sometimes the longa or breve is used to show a very long note of indefinite amount of time, as at the end of a piece (e.g. at the end of Mozart's Mass KV 192).

Beamed notes

A single eighth note, or any faster note, is always stemmed with flags, while two or more are usually beamed in groups.[16] When a stem is present, it can go either up (from the right side of the note head) or down (from the left side), except in the cases of the longa or maxima which are nearly always written with downward stems. In most cases, the stem goes down if the notehead is on the center line or above, and up otherwise. Any flags always go to the right of the stem.

Modifiers[change | change source]

A note value may be made longer by adding a dot after it. This dot adds the next briefer note value, making it one and a half times its original length of time. A number of dots (n) lengthen the note value by 2n − 1/2n its value, so two dots add two lower note values, making a total of one and three quarters times its original length of time. The rare three dots make it one and seven eighths the length of time, and so on.

Tie across the beat, followed by the same rhythm written without a tie

Two notes of the same pitch can be combined into one note with a tie.

Examples of tuplets: quarter note triplet, eighth note triplet, sixteenth note quintuplet

To divide a note value to three equal parts, or some other value than two, tuplets may be used. For example, an eighth note triplet has three notes in the space of two eighth notes, so each note has a length of 1/12. An sixteenth note quintuplet has five notes in the space of four sixteenth notes, so each note has a length of 1/20.

References[change | change source]

  1. William Smythe, Babcock Mathews, and Emil Liebling, "Large", Pronouncing and Defining Dictionary of Music (Cincinnati, New York, London: J. Church and Company, 1896).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Theodore Baker, A Dictionary of Musical Terms: Containing Upwards of 9,000 English, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Greek Words and Phrases, third edition, revised and enlarged (New York: G. Schirmer, 1897): 131.
  3. Ray M. Owen "Glossary of Film Terms: Normal v — Noth". SoundsOfNewMexico.com, 2012. Archived 13 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine MC Peko, "bpm calc 2.2 // for calculating and visualizing bpm and related values // help // change-log // open source: zip js". Focus Studios, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Kartik Asooja, Sindhu Kiranmai, and Paul Buitelaar "UNLP at the C@merata Task: Question Answering on Musical Scores ACM Archived 2015-11-22 at the Wayback Machine"
  5. Anonymous, "My Ambient Sounds—Sleeping Music & Ambient Soundscape Mixer to Help You Sleep Better Now Archived 2016-08-15 at the Wayback Machine" (10 February 2016) Main Facts.biz (accessed 18 June 2016).
  6. Music Dictionary (Do–Dq) Dolmetsch.com (accessed 4 February 2015).
  7. William Smythe, Babcock Mathews, and Emil Liebling, "Double Note", Pronouncing and Defining Dictionary of Music (Cincinnati, New York, London: J. Church and Company, 1896).
  8. John Morehen and Richard Rastall, "Note values"", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001).
  9. John Freckleton Burrowes, Burrowes' Piano-forte Primer: Containing the Rudiments of Music Adapted for Either Private Tuition Or Teaching in Classes Together with a Guide to Practice, new edition, revised and modernized, with important additions,m by L.H. Southard (Boston and New York: Oliver Ditson, 1874): 41. Hendrik Van der Werf,.. The Oldest Extant Part Music and the Origin of Western Polyphony, 2 vols (Rochester, New York: H. van der Werf, 1993:. 1:97.
  10. John Morehen and Richard Rastall, "Breve" and "Note values", New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition (2001).
  11. "Double Note", Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (C. & G. Merriam Co., 1913).
  12. "Music Dictionary (Do–Dq)" Dolmetsch.com (accessed 4 February 2015).
  13. Lowell Mason, Manual of the Boston Academy of Music (Boston, 1843): 67.
  14. Robert J. Miller (2015). Contemporary Orchestration: A Practical Guide to Instruments, Ensembles, and Musicians. London: Routledge. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-415-74190-3.
  15. David Haas (2011). "Shostakovich's Second Piano Sonata: A Composition Recital in Three Styles". In Pauline Fairclough; David Fanning (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Shostakovich. Cambridge Companions to Music. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 95–114. doi:10.1017/CCOL9780521842204.006. ISBN 978-1-139-00195-3. The listener is right to suspect a Baroque reference when a double-dotted rhythmic gesture and semihemidemisemiquaver triplets appear to ornament the theme.(p. 112)
  16. Gerou, Tom (1996). Essential Dictionary of Music Notation, p.211. Alfred. ISBN 0-88284-730-9