Note and Rest Duration
There exist different notations to indicate how long a note should or should not be played.
The standard beat is considered to be the quarter note. This note receives one beat when playing in common time.
The half note receives two beats in common time.
The whole note receives four beats in common time.
The eighth note receives half a beat in common time and can be linked to other eighth notes as shown below. Note that notes with duration shorter than that of a quarter note have flags. Each flag indicates the halving of duration, so the eighth note has one flag (since its duration is half that of the quarter note).
Single eighth notes:
Multiple eighth notes:
The sixteenth note receives one-fourth of a beat in common time and is linked to other sixteenth notes as shown below. It has two flags to indicate that its duration is half of half of that of the quarter note (in other words, one-fourth the duration of a quarter note).
Single sixteenth notes:
Multiple sixteenth notes:
The pattern continues with 32nd notes, 64th notes, and so on so forth. These latter notes are used less often because they constitute such a short duration of time.
Rests are used in the writing and reading of music to indicate places where no notes are played. In essence, they are planned spaces that are just as valuable to music as notes are. Rests are very similar to notes except they have no pitch and therefore do not have varying positions on the staff line. Usually, they are placed near the middle of the staff as indicated by the descriptions below.
The quarter rest receives one beat of rest and is placed right in the center of the staff. The size of any rest is subject to the opinion of the writer. It is usually large enough to see without obstructing the view of surrounding symbols.
The half rest receives two beats of rest and is placed sitting on the third line from the top.
The whole rest receives four beats of rest and is placed hanging off the second line from the top.
The eighth rest receives half of a beat – like the note symbol, the rests receive a knobbish structure to indicate halving of their duration. The eighth rest receives one such structure as its duration is half that of the quarter rest. It is placed at the center of the staff.
The sixteenth rest receives one-fourth of a beat and is placed at the center of the staff.
Like notes, rests continue on this pattern going on smaller and smaller durations. However, these smaller rests are rarely used in music.
Dots, otherwise known as augmentation dots, are placed to the right of a note’s head to indicate a longer duration. Specifically, the duration is lengthened by one-half that of the original duration. For example, a dotted quarter note receives and a half beats.
The dotted half note receives three beats.
And so on so forth.
If a dot is added next to another dot, then the second one indicates half the duration of the previous dot, or another half of the original note. Dots may be continually added following the same idea.