Notes

Identifying Notes and Rests To play or not to play

After learning the symbols to starting a new composition, we continue with the symbols that make up the actual music, notes and rests. The notes are placed on the lines and spaces of the staff to tell the performer which tones to play, when to play them, and how long each one lasts. Rests are placed on the staff telling the performer when not to play and for how long. A note’s or rest’s time value will depend upon the time signature as well as the tempo of the composition. See the sections below for more details.

Notes Symbols of sound

Notes tell the performer when to play. While notes carry a set time value, the actual sounding length of the note depends upon the time signature as well as the tempo of the composition. The performer must mentally maintain a count of the beat referring to the time signature to properly interpret the note’s value of actual time. With the exception of whole notes, notes standing alone will have either a stem and/or flag depending upon it’s time value. Notes are often connected by crossbars making it easier to identify them more quickly. Each flag or crossbar on a note cuts its time value in half. In addition, notes are often flipped and reversed to fit the staff area. Refer to the notes illustrated below.

The whole note or semibreve tells the performer to play the note for the entire measure.
A double whole note instructs to play the note for 2 full counts of the measure. It saves having to draw a whole note in two measures.
A half note or minum tells the performer to play the note for one-half of the measure.
A quarter note or crochet tells the performer to play the note for one-quarter of the measure.
An eighth note or quaver tells the performer to play the note for one-eighth of the measure.
A sixteenth note or semiquaver tells the performer to play the note for one sixteenth of the measure.
A dotted note tells the performer to extend the note by half its time value.
Triplets and more: Notes tied with bar and number are each to be played in a similar style and length.