Kitchieboy's Music Tutor
Learning to Read Music
(But Not Enough to Hurt Your Playing)

Note Values - It's About Time

So how about those dots? We've spent a lot of time on lines and spaces, but the dots are where the notes are, right?

Okay, here's another picture showing the parts of one kind of note, an eighth note. The "dot" is called the "head", the line that sticks up (or down if it's inverted) is the "stem" and the wavy thing that looks like a flag is called a "flag".

A note head alone, with a hole in it and no stem, looking like a doughnut, is a whole note. Add a stem and it's a half note. Fill in the hole, and it's a quarter note. Add a flag, and it's an eighth. Add another flag, a sixteenth. And so on. These all have to do with time values. In 4/4 "common" time or march time, a whole note gets 4 beats - an entire bar. A half note gets half as much - two beats. A quarter, one fourth as much.

Did I mention that music notation was related to mathematics? And the music notation is a system for capturing time on paper so it can be read back?

One more thing. A dot after a note adds 50% more time to it. So a dot after a quarter note means it should last for a beat and a half. You see dotted eighths a lot in Scottish music.

Still one more thing. When two or more flagged notes are next to each other, it's easier to draw a line across all their stems than to put cute wavy flags on all of them. The line is call a "beam". Single line beams mean eighth notes, double beams mean sixteenths.

And one more thing. An apology. I said at the beginning that you wouldn't need to take off your shoes and socks to do the counting. I lied. Sort of. If you count all the sixteenth notes, you have to use 100% of your fingers and 60% of your toes. Unless you have a better way of counting.

But, the other part of reading and writing time values - time signatures - keeps the numbers down. That's next.

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Kitchieboy's Music Tutor - Learning to Read Music
(But Not Enough to Hurt Your Playing)
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