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How to read musical notes: Types of Notes

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One of the most important parts of music is learning the types and values of notes. There are various types of notes, each of which is held for a different length of time.  Here you will gain some understanding of how the notes look.

The way a note appears indicates how many beats it should last.

The Whole note

Looks like an egg on its side, either with a line through it or not. Whole notes last four beats.

The Half note

Looks like the same as a whole note but with a vertical line attached to it. Half notes last two beats.

The Quarter note

Looks like the same as a half note except the circle is filled in. Quarter notes last one beat.

Any note shorter than a quarter note has one or more curlies off the line ("hooks") to indicate its length. Each hook cuts the note's length in half.

The Eighth note

Looks like the same as quarter note but with a hook. They can also be put in groups of 4, 3, or 2.
Eighth notes last one-half beat.

The Sixteenth note

Looks like the same as an eighth note but has one more hook. Can also be grouped in 4, 3 or 2 but are joined by a double line. Sixteenth notes last one-quarter beat.

These continue on to thirty-second and sixty-fourth notes (with three and four hooks, respectively).

Remember: 1 whole note = 2 half notes = 4 quarter notes = 8 eighth notes = 16 sixteenth notes and so on.

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