Music Theory: Note Names, Rests & Dotted Notes

In this article we will learning about Music Theory. I will be explaining the names of notes along with their value and their rest symbol and dotted notes.

Let’s Begin…

The Notes

music notes

So let’s start with whole note. As you can see from the far left-hand column it looks very much like a small letter O. In fact when you start to write music it’s often needed just to think of it as a small letter O. It has a value of 4. This is a minim and has a value of 2. It looks like a semibreve but it has a stem that little black line attached to it as it has a value of 2. You’d need to minims to equal the value of 1 semibreve which has the value of 4. Any note which has a stem and we’ll look at some more in a moment.

The Name

names of notes

It’s very important to ensure that the stem is on the right if the note head is at the bottom. Where as the stem is placed on the left if the note head is at the top. This sounds like me being very picky but it’s very important here’s a capital letter E. If I move the line to the other side it looks very odd. In fact it looks like the number 3 not very helpful if you mean an E rather than a 3. The correct placement of the stem is just as important all notes with stems follow this rule. This is a crotchet and has a value of 1. Notice how it looks like a minim but the note head is all black as it has a value of 1. You’d need 4 crotchets to equal the value of 1 semibrev.

The Value and Time

This is a quaver and has a value of 1/2 notice how it looks like a crotchet but we’ve added a tail to the stem. Let’s just take a moment to look a little more at tail. Here are two quavers each with their tails. Sometimes three or four the tails can often be glued together to look like. This means there are still two quavers and together they’re equal 1 because half plus 1/2 equals 1. Now there are some quite complex rules relating to joining of notes like these together. Musicians refer to the rules as beaming. If you need some assistance have a look there. If you need to so as the quaver has a value of 1/2 you’d need how many to equal the value of 1 semibreve you’d need 8 as I mentioned earlie.

The stem always sits on the right if the note head is at the bottom and on the left if the note head is at the top. However the tail always sits on the right this would never be correct as the tail is on the left. Finally this is a semiquaver. Semi means 1/2 so it literally means 1/2 a quaver half of a quaver would be a quarter notice. How it looks like a quaver but has another tail added when for semi quavers sitting next to each other and sometimes two or three semi quavers.

The stems can be glued together to look like this. It’s worth noting here that different notes with tails like quavers and semi quavers can often be joined or beamed together. This isn’t always possible. However so you understand what I mean by this here is a quaver and two semi quavers. Because all of the notes have tails they are often being together to look like this. Notice how they are beamed they are all neatly joined together to form one group. This grouping would be incorrect because one of the tails of the final semi quaver is sticking out of the group of notes. This would also be incorrect because only the top line is joining all three note. The second tail is not joined together.

The dotted

Anyway before I bog you down with beaming let’s go back to the semi quavers themselve. As each semiquaver has a value of 1/4 you’d need 16 of them to equal the value of 1 semibreve when trying to learn note names and their values it’s always worth building a pyramid like this so you can see exactly how each note splits into other note. Now you can see that from our list on the left there is no note listed here which represents a value of 3. Well such a note does exist and it looks like this it’s called a dotted.

Let me explain when I dot is on the right-hand side of a note it means add half of the note value to itself this sounds complicated but it is fairly straightforward. This note without the dot is a minim and worth 2 if we add a dot the dot says add another half of the minim to. The total value so half a minim is 1 therefore a minim add 1 equals 3 a dotted minim equals 3. Before I go any further just be aware that the dot must be to the right-hand side of a note. Don’t get confused with a dot. Which is under or above the note head as this means to carto which means play the note short or detached.

A dot can be added to any not. This is a crotchet. it’s worth if we add a dot it means add half the value of a crotchet half. The crotchet is half therefore the value of this note is one and a half let’s have a quick look at a dotted quaver. We already know that as a quaver equals half the dot adds half of that value half. Other half is a quarter so we add that quarter to the half. The total value is 3/4. So remember, a dot adds half of the value of the note to itself therefore to have a note which equals a value of 3. We add a dot to a minim.

The Rest

Finally let’s have a look at rests. A rest is a symbol that tells the musician to stop playing for a specific time or value. For example, perhaps a composer of a piece for Violin and piano. Once the violin to stop playing for the value of a crotchet or maybe even an entire bar music contains symbols which represent silence for a specific value. The rest symbol for a crotchet which has a value of 1 is this and you can see that I’ve added it to the column called rest and we call it a crotchet rest. So a crotchet equals 1 but if composer wanted a musician to be silent for a value of 1, they would write this symbo.

Now I often get asked what’s the easiest way to write a crotchet rest as it does look a little complex?. Well it takes a little bit of practice. But my advice is to firstly draw a little Z or Z if you prefer secondly add a little loop to the bottom. Okay it doesn’t look anything special. But if you draw it neatly, it will be clear that you’re drawing a crotchet rest always be careful. When drawing notes and rests on the stave this is too big. This is too small the crotchet rest fits nicely like this on the stave a quaver s.

Looks like this a little seven with a blob at the start of the symbol like the quaver. It’s worth half a semi-coma rest looks similar to a quaver rest. Remember that a quaver has one tail so the Cueva rest has one arm. A semi quaver has two tails so its rest has two arms so this symbol represents a rest of a quarter. Now the rest for a minim semibreve and dotted minim look very similar.

I do hope this article has been useful to you many thanks for reading.

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