Types of Music Notes

One of the most important things to learn as a musician is the different types of music notes.

Contents show

Learning the types of notes, their names (what the heck is a demisemiquaver?), and what they look like is one of the most important steps to learning music theory.

Once you learn the music notes and their names, you’ll be well equipped to start sight reading sheet music like a pro.

Different music notes have different names and beat values. We’ll be using the United States music note names, as well as the traditional note names like quaver and semibreve.

We’ll start by learning all the music notes, then we’ll go over music rests and other music notations. Let’s get started!

Whole Note (Semibreve)

whole note (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A whole note, also known as a semibreve, is four beats long.

The whole note symbol looks like a flattened zero, or the letter “O.” It’s an easy note to remember when you learn how to read music.

When you sing or play a semibreve, count to four while holding the note. Since a semibreve is worth four beats, it’s one of the longest music notes.

Double Whole Note (Breve)

double whole note (breve)

A breve, also called a double whole note, is pretty rare, but you still might see it on some printed sheet music.

The symbol for this music note looks like a normal whole note with two lines on either side of it.

Breves are eight beats long.

Most of the time, when a note is eight beats long, the music will show it as two tied whole notes. (More about tied notes later.) However, if you plan on taking a music theory exam, it can be helpful to know what a breve means and what its symbol looks like.

Half Note (Minim)

half note minim example (image by Wikimedia commons)

The half note (or minim) is a common type of music note. The half note symbol looks like a whole note with a line on the side of it.

The round part of the note is called the note head, and the line is called a stem.

A minim has a note value of two beats. This means when you play a half note, you count out two beats. That’s because it’s half as long as a whole note (or semibreve).

Quarter Note (Crochet)

Quarter note crochet note (image by Wikimedia commons)

The next type of note is a quarter note, also known as a crochet. This is one of the most common music notes you will see in your music.

A quarter note symbol looks the same as a half note symbol, but the note head is filled in black. 

The quarter note is worth one beat. If your music is in 4/4 time signature, there will be four quarter notes per bar.

Eighth Note (Quaver)

Eighth note quaver example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

An eighth (1/8) note is often called a quaver. 

The eighth note symbol is a quarter note with a tail coming down the side of the stem. The tail might also be called a hook or a flag. An eighth note has a value of half a beat. 

Eighth notes have only one tail, because each tail cuts the note value in half. When you add more tails, you get…

Sixteenth Note (Semiquaver)

semiquaver sixteenth note example (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A semiquaver (or a sixteenth note) is a short music note that is worth ¼ of a beat. 

Sixteenth notes have two flags coming out of the stem, so it’s half as long as an eighth note. Remember, the more tails on a music note, the faster the note will sound.

32nd Note (Demisemiquaver)

thirty second note example (by Wikimedia Commons)

A 32nd note looks exactly like a sixteenth note, but it has three tails instead of two. 

Because this note has two tails, it’s worth one-eighth of a quarter note. This means if the time signature is 4/4, you could fit 32 of these notes in one bar.

64th Note (Hemidemisemiquaver)

64th note

Hemidemisemiquaver. Try saying that three times fast!

Out of all the different music notes, this is one of the shortest. A 64th note symbol has four tails on its stem. It’s worth one-sixteenth of a quarter note. 

These notes are super fast and tricky to play, so you probably won’t see too many of these in your sheet music.

We’ve talked about all the types of musical notes, music note symbols, and how many beats each note is worth. 

Now, let’s talk about some other music symbols and notations.

Note Stems

music note stems example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Note stems can point up or down, depending on where the note is located on the music staff. 

If the stem is pointing up, it comes out of the right side of the note, like the letter “d.” 

If the stem is pointing down, it’s on the left side of the note, like the letter “p.” 

When a note sits below the middle line in the music staff, the stem points up. 

When the note is above the middle line, the stem points down.

Note Tails

note tails flags example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Notes like quavers (eighth notes) and semiquavers (sixteenth notes) have note tails. These tails are also called flags. 

Each note tail cuts the value of the note in half. For example, eighth notes have one tail. When you add a second tail, the music note becomes a sixteenth note and is worth half of an eighth note.

Note tails always point to the right.

Ledger Lines

music note ledger lines on the music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

When a music note is too high or two low to fit on the music stave, we add ledger lines. The ledger lines act as a way to extend the music stave. 

If you see a note with a little line on the note head, it is a ledger line. This is to help you determine what note it is when you’re sight reading music. It doesn’t change the beat value.

Beaming Notes Together

eighth notes and sixteenth notes beamed together example (from Wikimedia Commons)

When you have two or more notes with a tail that are next to each other (like two eighth notes in a row), you can join their tails together into a beam.

A beam connects the note stems, and helps make it easier for musicians to read the music. 

Two eighth notes are connected by one beam. 

When connecting sixteenth notes, we use two beams because the music notes have two tails. 

For each tail that the notes have, we add another beam. 

You could also connect eighth notes and sixteenth notes together.

Dotted Notes

dotted quarter note on the staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

If you see a note symbol with a dot next to it, this is a dotted note. 

It means to hold the original note just a bit longer. 

For example, a dotted half note equals a half note and a quarter note. It is three beats long. 

A dotted quarter note would equal a quarter note and an eighth note. It is one and a half beats long.

However, a dotted note can’t cross over a bar line. If there’s not enough space for a dotted note, we use tied notes instead to cross over the bar line.

Tied Notes

tied notes example chart (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A tie is a curved line that combines two notes that have the same pitch. You could use this instead of a dotted note. You could also tie two whole notes together instead of a double whole note.

Tied notes only connect two notes that are the same pitch and are right next to each other.

Ornaments

Glissando musical ornament ornamentation example (by Wikimedia Commons)

There are a lot of different symbols for musical ornaments. A musical ornament (also called a musical embellishment) is an extra note or series of notes that you play to give more flair to your music.

Most musical ornaments are short notes that are added around the main note. They provide depth and showmanship to classical music.

Some common ornaments include turns, mordents, trills, acciaccaturas (also called grace notes), and appoggiaturas.

Duplets

Duplet example drum sheet music (image by Wikimedia Commons)

A duplet is a pair of notes with a little number 2 over them. These notes might be beamed together, or they might have a bracket over them.

Duplet notes are the same as dotted notes. They’re a little bit longer than the rest of the notes. 

For example, if you have a duplet with two quarter notes, the duplet will equal 3 beats. If the duplet is two eighth notes, it equals 3/4 of a beat, the same as a dotted quarter note.

Triplets

triplets in sheet music example (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The symbol for a triplet is the same as a duplet, but with a little 3 instead of a 2. 

Triplets are three notes that are all equally dividing the beat.

Instead of splitting a note in half (like a whole note in two half notes), we split the note into thirds. That’s a triplet.

Once you get practice with reading music, you’ll get the rhythm of triplets pretty quickly.

Rests

There are several different types of rests in music. Rests are breaks in the music that tell the musician when to stop performing, and how long they should stay quiet.

Most music rests follow the same note values and beats as the rest of the music notes. 

For example, a whole note rest is the same length as a whole note: four beats.

types of music rests examples on music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Whole note rest (semibreve rest)

A whole note rest is written as a little bar under the second line on the music staff. It equals four beats of silence.

Rests can also be dotted, just like music notes. A dotted rest means it is one and a half times longer. So a dotted whole note rest would be worth six beats (4 + 2 from the dot).

Half note rest (minim rest)

The half note rest symbol is a little bar like the semibreve rest. But instead of hanging under the second line, the half note rest sits on top of the third line, right in the middle of the staff.

It has a value of two beats. 

Quarter note rest (crochet rest)

The symbol for a quarter note rest looks like a letter “z” with a little “c” underneath it. It sits in the middle of the staff. It can be a bit tricky to draw, but it’s easy to understand. 

The quarter note rest has a value of one beat, just like a quarter note.

Eighth note rest (quaver rest)

Representing 1/2 a beat, the eighth note rest is a fairly common symbol to see in your music. 

The eighth note rest looks like a tiny number 7 with a dot on the tip of it. It sits right in the middle of the staff.

Sixteenth note rest (semiquaver rest)

Last, but not least, we have the sixteenth note rest. A sixteenth note rest equals 1/4 of a beat. 

It looks like an eighth note rest, but it sits on the bottom line of the staff and has another curly flick on top. 

The flicks represent the tails on the music note. So if you see a rest with one flick, it’s an eighth note rest. If the rest has two flicks, it’s a sixteenth note rest.


Thanks for reading! We hope this post helped you learn more about the types of music notes, the notes names, and their beat values. 

Do you have any questions about music theory? Ask us in the comments below!

And remember, practice makes perfect. The more you read music, the better you will be at recognizing different note symbols and names. With enough practice, it will start feeling like a second nature to you.

One of the most important things to learn as a musician is the different types of music notes.

Learning the types of notes, their names (what the heck is a demisemiquaver?), and what they look like is one of the most important steps to learning music theory.

Once you learn the music notes and their names, you’ll be well equipped to start sight reading sheet music like a pro.

Different music notes have different names and beat values. We’ll be using the United States music note names, as well as the traditional note names like quaver and semibreve.

We’ll start by learning all the music notes, then we’ll go over music rests and other music notations. Let’s get started!

Whole Note (Semibreve)

whole note (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A whole note, also known as a semibreve, is four beats long.

The whole note symbol looks like a flattened zero, or the letter “O.” It’s an easy note to remember when you learn how to read music.

When you sing or play a semibreve, count to four while holding the note. Since a semibreve is worth four beats, it’s one of the longest music notes.

Double Whole Note (Breve)

double whole note (breve)

A breve, also called a double whole note, is pretty rare, but you still might see it on some printed sheet music.

The symbol for this music note looks like a normal whole note with two lines on either side of it.

Breves are eight beats long.

Most of the time, when a note is eight beats long, the music will show it as two tied whole notes. (More about tied notes later.) However, if you plan on taking a music theory exam, it can be helpful to know what a breve means and what its symbol looks like.

Half Note (Minim)

half note minim example (image by Wikimedia commons)

The half note (or minim) is a common type of music note. The half note symbol looks like a whole note with a line on the side of it.

The round part of the note is called the note head, and the line is called a stem.

A minim has a note value of two beats. This means when you play a half note, you count out two beats. That’s because it’s half as long as a whole note (or semibreve).

Quarter Note (Crochet)

Quarter note crochet note (image by Wikimedia commons)

The next type of note is a quarter note, also known as a crochet. This is one of the most common music notes you will see in your music.

A quarter note symbol looks the same as a half note symbol, but the note head is filled in black. 

The quarter note is worth one beat. If your music is in 4/4 time signature, there will be four quarter notes per bar.

Eighth Note (Quaver)

Eighth note quaver example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

An eighth (1/8) note is often called a quaver. 

The eighth note symbol is a quarter note with a tail coming down the side of the stem. The tail might also be called a hook or a flag. An eighth note has a value of half a beat. 

Eighth notes have only one tail, because each tail cuts the note value in half. When you add more tails, you get…

Sixteenth Note (Semiquaver)

semiquaver sixteenth note example (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A semiquaver (or a sixteenth note) is a short music note that is worth ¼ of a beat. 

Sixteenth notes have two flags coming out of the stem, so it’s half as long as an eighth note. Remember, the more tails on a music note, the faster the note will sound.

32nd Note (Demisemiquaver)

thirty second note example (by Wikimedia Commons)

A 32nd note looks exactly like a sixteenth note, but it has three tails instead of two. 

Because this note has two tails, it’s worth one-eighth of a quarter note. This means if the time signature is 4/4, you could fit 32 of these notes in one bar.

64th Note (Hemidemisemiquaver)

64th note

Hemidemisemiquaver. Try saying that three times fast!

Out of all the different music notes, this is one of the shortest. A 64th note symbol has four tails on its stem. It’s worth one-sixteenth of a quarter note. 

These notes are super fast and tricky to play, so you probably won’t see too many of these in your sheet music.

We’ve talked about all the types of musical notes, music note symbols, and how many beats each note is worth. 

Now, let’s talk about some other music symbols and notations.

Note Stems

music note stems example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Note stems can point up or down, depending on where the note is located on the music staff. 

If the stem is pointing up, it comes out of the right side of the note, like the letter “d.” 

If the stem is pointing down, it’s on the left side of the note, like the letter “p.” 

When a note sits below the middle line in the music staff, the stem points up. 

When the note is above the middle line, the stem points down.

Note Tails

note tails flags example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Notes like quavers (eighth notes) and semiquavers (sixteenth notes) have note tails. These tails are also called flags. 

Each note tail cuts the value of the note in half. For example, eighth notes have one tail. When you add a second tail, the music note becomes a sixteenth note and is worth half of an eighth note.

Note tails always point to the right.

Ledger Lines

music note ledger lines on the music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

When a music note is too high or two low to fit on the music stave, we add ledger lines. The ledger lines act as a way to extend the music stave. 

If you see a note with a little line on the note head, it is a ledger line. This is to help you determine what note it is when you’re sight reading music. It doesn’t change the beat value.

Beaming Notes Together

eighth notes and sixteenth notes beamed together example (from Wikimedia Commons)

When you have two or more notes with a tail that are next to each other (like two eighth notes in a row), you can join their tails together into a beam.

A beam connects the note stems, and helps make it easier for musicians to read the music. 

Two eighth notes are connected by one beam. 

When connecting sixteenth notes, we use two beams because the music notes have two tails. 

For each tail that the notes have, we add another beam. 

You could also connect eighth notes and sixteenth notes together.

Dotted Notes

dotted quarter note on the staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

If you see a note symbol with a dot next to it, this is a dotted note. 

It means to hold the original note just a bit longer. 

For example, a dotted half note equals a half note and a quarter note. It is three beats long. 

A dotted quarter note would equal a quarter note and an eighth note. It is one and a half beats long.

However, a dotted note can’t cross over a bar line. If there’s not enough space for a dotted note, we use tied notes instead to cross over the bar line.

Tied Notes

tied notes example chart (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A tie is a curved line that combines two notes that have the same pitch. You could use this instead of a dotted note. You could also tie two whole notes together instead of a double whole note.

Tied notes only connect two notes that are the same pitch and are right next to each other.

Ornaments

Glissando musical ornament ornamentation example (by Wikimedia Commons)

There are a lot of different symbols for musical ornaments. A musical ornament (also called a musical embellishment) is an extra note or series of notes that you play to give more flair to your music.

Most musical ornaments are short notes that are added around the main note. They provide depth and showmanship to classical music.

Some common ornaments include turns, mordents, trills, acciaccaturas (also called grace notes), and appoggiaturas.

Duplets

Duplet example drum sheet music (image by Wikimedia Commons)

A duplet is a pair of notes with a little number 2 over them. These notes might be beamed together, or they might have a bracket over them.

Duplet notes are the same as dotted notes. They’re a little bit longer than the rest of the notes. 

For example, if you have a duplet with two quarter notes, the duplet will equal 3 beats. If the duplet is two eighth notes, it equals 3/4 of a beat, the same as a dotted quarter note.

Triplets

triplets in sheet music example (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The symbol for a triplet is the same as a duplet, but with a little 3 instead of a 2. 

Triplets are three notes that are all equally dividing the beat.

Instead of splitting a note in half (like a whole note in two half notes), we split the note into thirds. That’s a triplet.

Once you get practice with reading music, you’ll get the rhythm of triplets pretty quickly.

Rests

There are several different types of rests in music. Rests are breaks in the music that tell the musician when to stop performing, and how long they should stay quiet.

Most music rests follow the same note values and beats as the rest of the music notes. 

For example, a whole note rest is the same length as a whole note: four beats.

types of music rests examples on music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Whole note rest (semibreve rest)

A whole note rest is written as a little bar under the second line on the music staff. It equals four beats of silence.

Rests can also be dotted, just like music notes. A dotted rest means it is one and a half times longer. So a dotted whole note rest would be worth six beats (4 + 2 from the dot).

Half note rest (minim rest)

The half note rest symbol is a little bar like the semibreve rest. But instead of hanging under the second line, the half note rest sits on top of the third line, right in the middle of the staff.

It has a value of two beats. 

Quarter note rest (crochet rest)

The symbol for a quarter note rest looks like a letter “z” with a little “c” underneath it. It sits in the middle of the staff. It can be a bit tricky to draw, but it’s easy to understand. 

The quarter note rest has a value of one beat, just like a quarter note.

Eighth note rest (quaver rest)

Representing 1/2 a beat, the eighth note rest is a fairly common symbol to see in your music. 

The eighth note rest looks like a tiny number 7 with a dot on the tip of it. It sits right in the middle of the staff.

Sixteenth note rest (semiquaver rest)

Last, but not least, we have the sixteenth note rest. A sixteenth note rest equals 1/4 of a beat. 

It looks like an eighth note rest, but it sits on the bottom line of the staff and has another curly flick on top. 

The flicks represent the tails on the music note. So if you see a rest with one flick, it’s an eighth note rest. If the rest has two flicks, it’s a sixteenth note rest.


Thanks for reading! We hope this post helped you learn more about the types of music notes, the notes names, and their beat values. 

Do you have any questions about music theory? Ask us in the comments below!

And remember, practice makes perfect. The more you read music, the better you will be at recognizing different note symbols and names. With enough practice, it will start feeling like a second nature to you.

One of the most important things to learn as a musician is the different types of music notes.

Learning the types of notes, their names (what the heck is a demisemiquaver?), and what they look like is one of the most important steps to learning music theory.

Once you learn the music notes and their names, you’ll be well equipped to start sight reading sheet music like a pro.

Different music notes have different names and beat values. We’ll be using the United States music note names, as well as the traditional note names like quaver and semibreve.

We’ll start by learning all the music notes, then we’ll go over music rests and other music notations. Let’s get started!

Whole Note (Semibreve)

whole note (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A whole note, also known as a semibreve, is four beats long.

The whole note symbol looks like a flattened zero, or the letter “O.” It’s an easy note to remember when you learn how to read music.

When you sing or play a semibreve, count to four while holding the note. Since a semibreve is worth four beats, it’s one of the longest music notes.

Double Whole Note (Breve)

double whole note (breve)

A breve, also called a double whole note, is pretty rare, but you still might see it on some printed sheet music.

The symbol for this music note looks like a normal whole note with two lines on either side of it.

Breves are eight beats long.

Most of the time, when a note is eight beats long, the music will show it as two tied whole notes. (More about tied notes later.) However, if you plan on taking a music theory exam, it can be helpful to know what a breve means and what its symbol looks like.

Half Note (Minim)

half note minim example (image by Wikimedia commons)

The half note (or minim) is a common type of music note. The half note symbol looks like a whole note with a line on the side of it.

The round part of the note is called the note head, and the line is called a stem.

A minim has a note value of two beats. This means when you play a half note, you count out two beats. That’s because it’s half as long as a whole note (or semibreve).

Quarter Note (Crochet)

Quarter note crochet note (image by Wikimedia commons)

The next type of note is a quarter note, also known as a crochet. This is one of the most common music notes you will see in your music.

A quarter note symbol looks the same as a half note symbol, but the note head is filled in black. 

The quarter note is worth one beat. If your music is in 4/4 time signature, there will be four quarter notes per bar.

Eighth Note (Quaver)

Eighth note quaver example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

An eighth (1/8) note is often called a quaver. 

The eighth note symbol is a quarter note with a tail coming down the side of the stem. The tail might also be called a hook or a flag. An eighth note has a value of half a beat. 

Eighth notes have only one tail, because each tail cuts the note value in half. When you add more tails, you get…

Sixteenth Note (Semiquaver)

semiquaver sixteenth note example (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A semiquaver (or a sixteenth note) is a short music note that is worth ¼ of a beat. 

Sixteenth notes have two flags coming out of the stem, so it’s half as long as an eighth note. Remember, the more tails on a music note, the faster the note will sound.

32nd Note (Demisemiquaver)

thirty second note example (by Wikimedia Commons)

A 32nd note looks exactly like a sixteenth note, but it has three tails instead of two. 

Because this note has two tails, it’s worth one-eighth of a quarter note. This means if the time signature is 4/4, you could fit 32 of these notes in one bar.

64th Note (Hemidemisemiquaver)

64th note

Hemidemisemiquaver. Try saying that three times fast!

Out of all the different music notes, this is one of the shortest. A 64th note symbol has four tails on its stem. It’s worth one-sixteenth of a quarter note. 

These notes are super fast and tricky to play, so you probably won’t see too many of these in your sheet music.

We’ve talked about all the types of musical notes, music note symbols, and how many beats each note is worth. 

Now, let’s talk about some other music symbols and notations.

Note Stems

music note stems example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Note stems can point up or down, depending on where the note is located on the music staff. 

If the stem is pointing up, it comes out of the right side of the note, like the letter “d.” 

If the stem is pointing down, it’s on the left side of the note, like the letter “p.” 

When a note sits below the middle line in the music staff, the stem points up. 

When the note is above the middle line, the stem points down.

Note Tails

note tails flags example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Notes like quavers (eighth notes) and semiquavers (sixteenth notes) have note tails. These tails are also called flags. 

Each note tail cuts the value of the note in half. For example, eighth notes have one tail. When you add a second tail, the music note becomes a sixteenth note and is worth half of an eighth note.

Note tails always point to the right.

Ledger Lines

music note ledger lines on the music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

When a music note is too high or two low to fit on the music stave, we add ledger lines. The ledger lines act as a way to extend the music stave. 

If you see a note with a little line on the note head, it is a ledger line. This is to help you determine what note it is when you’re sight reading music. It doesn’t change the beat value.

Beaming Notes Together

eighth notes and sixteenth notes beamed together example (from Wikimedia Commons)

When you have two or more notes with a tail that are next to each other (like two eighth notes in a row), you can join their tails together into a beam.

A beam connects the note stems, and helps make it easier for musicians to read the music. 

Two eighth notes are connected by one beam. 

When connecting sixteenth notes, we use two beams because the music notes have two tails. 

For each tail that the notes have, we add another beam. 

You could also connect eighth notes and sixteenth notes together.

Dotted Notes

dotted quarter note on the staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

If you see a note symbol with a dot next to it, this is a dotted note. 

It means to hold the original note just a bit longer. 

For example, a dotted half note equals a half note and a quarter note. It is three beats long. 

A dotted quarter note would equal a quarter note and an eighth note. It is one and a half beats long.

However, a dotted note can’t cross over a bar line. If there’s not enough space for a dotted note, we use tied notes instead to cross over the bar line.

Tied Notes

tied notes example chart (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A tie is a curved line that combines two notes that have the same pitch. You could use this instead of a dotted note. You could also tie two whole notes together instead of a double whole note.

Tied notes only connect two notes that are the same pitch and are right next to each other.

Ornaments

Glissando musical ornament ornamentation example (by Wikimedia Commons)

There are a lot of different symbols for musical ornaments. A musical ornament (also called a musical embellishment) is an extra note or series of notes that you play to give more flair to your music.

Most musical ornaments are short notes that are added around the main note. They provide depth and showmanship to classical music.

Some common ornaments include turns, mordents, trills, acciaccaturas (also called grace notes), and appoggiaturas.

Duplets

Duplet example drum sheet music (image by Wikimedia Commons)

A duplet is a pair of notes with a little number 2 over them. These notes might be beamed together, or they might have a bracket over them.

Duplet notes are the same as dotted notes. They’re a little bit longer than the rest of the notes. 

For example, if you have a duplet with two quarter notes, the duplet will equal 3 beats. If the duplet is two eighth notes, it equals 3/4 of a beat, the same as a dotted quarter note.

Triplets

triplets in sheet music example (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The symbol for a triplet is the same as a duplet, but with a little 3 instead of a 2. 

Triplets are three notes that are all equally dividing the beat.

Instead of splitting a note in half (like a whole note in two half notes), we split the note into thirds. That’s a triplet.

Once you get practice with reading music, you’ll get the rhythm of triplets pretty quickly.

Rests

There are several different types of rests in music. Rests are breaks in the music that tell the musician when to stop performing, and how long they should stay quiet.

Most music rests follow the same note values and beats as the rest of the music notes. 

For example, a whole note rest is the same length as a whole note: four beats.

types of music rests examples on music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Whole note rest (semibreve rest)

A whole note rest is written as a little bar under the second line on the music staff. It equals four beats of silence.

Rests can also be dotted, just like music notes. A dotted rest means it is one and a half times longer. So a dotted whole note rest would be worth six beats (4 + 2 from the dot).

Half note rest (minim rest)

The half note rest symbol is a little bar like the semibreve rest. But instead of hanging under the second line, the half note rest sits on top of the third line, right in the middle of the staff.

It has a value of two beats. 

Quarter note rest (crochet rest)

The symbol for a quarter note rest looks like a letter “z” with a little “c” underneath it. It sits in the middle of the staff. It can be a bit tricky to draw, but it’s easy to understand. 

The quarter note rest has a value of one beat, just like a quarter note.

Eighth note rest (quaver rest)

Representing 1/2 a beat, the eighth note rest is a fairly common symbol to see in your music. 

The eighth note rest looks like a tiny number 7 with a dot on the tip of it. It sits right in the middle of the staff.

Sixteenth note rest (semiquaver rest)

Last, but not least, we have the sixteenth note rest. A sixteenth note rest equals 1/4 of a beat. 

It looks like an eighth note rest, but it sits on the bottom line of the staff and has another curly flick on top. 

The flicks represent the tails on the music note. So if you see a rest with one flick, it’s an eighth note rest. If the rest has two flicks, it’s a sixteenth note rest.


Thanks for reading! We hope this post helped you learn more about the types of music notes, the notes names, and their beat values. 

Do you have any questions about music theory? Ask us in the comments below!

And remember, practice makes perfect. The more you read music, the better you will be at recognizing different note symbols and names. With enough practice, it will start feeling like a second nature to you.

One of the most important things to learn as a musician is the different types of music notes.

Learning the types of notes, their names (what the heck is a demisemiquaver?), and what they look like is one of the most important steps to learning music theory.

Once you learn the music notes and their names, you’ll be well equipped to start sight reading sheet music like a pro.

Different music notes have different names and beat values. We’ll be using the United States music note names, as well as the traditional note names like quaver and semibreve.

We’ll start by learning all the music notes, then we’ll go over music rests and other music notations. Let’s get started!

Whole Note (Semibreve)

whole note (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A whole note, also known as a semibreve, is four beats long.

The whole note symbol looks like a flattened zero, or the letter “O.” It’s an easy note to remember when you learn how to read music.

When you sing or play a semibreve, count to four while holding the note. Since a semibreve is worth four beats, it’s one of the longest music notes.

Double Whole Note (Breve)

double whole note (breve)

A breve, also called a double whole note, is pretty rare, but you still might see it on some printed sheet music.

The symbol for this music note looks like a normal whole note with two lines on either side of it.

Breves are eight beats long.

Most of the time, when a note is eight beats long, the music will show it as two tied whole notes. (More about tied notes later.) However, if you plan on taking a music theory exam, it can be helpful to know what a breve means and what its symbol looks like.

Half Note (Minim)

half note minim example (image by Wikimedia commons)

The half note (or minim) is a common type of music note. The half note symbol looks like a whole note with a line on the side of it.

The round part of the note is called the note head, and the line is called a stem.

A minim has a note value of two beats. This means when you play a half note, you count out two beats. That’s because it’s half as long as a whole note (or semibreve).

Quarter Note (Crochet)

Quarter note crochet note (image by Wikimedia commons)

The next type of note is a quarter note, also known as a crochet. This is one of the most common music notes you will see in your music.

A quarter note symbol looks the same as a half note symbol, but the note head is filled in black. 

The quarter note is worth one beat. If your music is in 4/4 time signature, there will be four quarter notes per bar.

Eighth Note (Quaver)

Eighth note quaver example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

An eighth (1/8) note is often called a quaver. 

The eighth note symbol is a quarter note with a tail coming down the side of the stem. The tail might also be called a hook or a flag. An eighth note has a value of half a beat. 

Eighth notes have only one tail, because each tail cuts the note value in half. When you add more tails, you get…

Sixteenth Note (Semiquaver)

semiquaver sixteenth note example (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A semiquaver (or a sixteenth note) is a short music note that is worth ¼ of a beat. 

Sixteenth notes have two flags coming out of the stem, so it’s half as long as an eighth note. Remember, the more tails on a music note, the faster the note will sound.

32nd Note (Demisemiquaver)

thirty second note example (by Wikimedia Commons)

A 32nd note looks exactly like a sixteenth note, but it has three tails instead of two. 

Because this note has two tails, it’s worth one-eighth of a quarter note. This means if the time signature is 4/4, you could fit 32 of these notes in one bar.

64th Note (Hemidemisemiquaver)

64th note

Hemidemisemiquaver. Try saying that three times fast!

Out of all the different music notes, this is one of the shortest. A 64th note symbol has four tails on its stem. It’s worth one-sixteenth of a quarter note. 

These notes are super fast and tricky to play, so you probably won’t see too many of these in your sheet music.

We’ve talked about all the types of musical notes, music note symbols, and how many beats each note is worth. 

Now, let’s talk about some other music symbols and notations.

Note Stems

music note stems example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Note stems can point up or down, depending on where the note is located on the music staff. 

If the stem is pointing up, it comes out of the right side of the note, like the letter “d.” 

If the stem is pointing down, it’s on the left side of the note, like the letter “p.” 

When a note sits below the middle line in the music staff, the stem points up. 

When the note is above the middle line, the stem points down.

Note Tails

note tails flags example (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Notes like quavers (eighth notes) and semiquavers (sixteenth notes) have note tails. These tails are also called flags. 

Each note tail cuts the value of the note in half. For example, eighth notes have one tail. When you add a second tail, the music note becomes a sixteenth note and is worth half of an eighth note.

Note tails always point to the right.

Ledger Lines

music note ledger lines on the music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

When a music note is too high or two low to fit on the music stave, we add ledger lines. The ledger lines act as a way to extend the music stave. 

If you see a note with a little line on the note head, it is a ledger line. This is to help you determine what note it is when you’re sight reading music. It doesn’t change the beat value.

Beaming Notes Together

eighth notes and sixteenth notes beamed together example (from Wikimedia Commons)

When you have two or more notes with a tail that are next to each other (like two eighth notes in a row), you can join their tails together into a beam.

A beam connects the note stems, and helps make it easier for musicians to read the music. 

Two eighth notes are connected by one beam. 

When connecting sixteenth notes, we use two beams because the music notes have two tails. 

For each tail that the notes have, we add another beam. 

You could also connect eighth notes and sixteenth notes together.

Dotted Notes

dotted quarter note on the staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

If you see a note symbol with a dot next to it, this is a dotted note. 

It means to hold the original note just a bit longer. 

For example, a dotted half note equals a half note and a quarter note. It is three beats long. 

A dotted quarter note would equal a quarter note and an eighth note. It is one and a half beats long.

However, a dotted note can’t cross over a bar line. If there’s not enough space for a dotted note, we use tied notes instead to cross over the bar line.

Tied Notes

tied notes example chart (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A tie is a curved line that combines two notes that have the same pitch. You could use this instead of a dotted note. You could also tie two whole notes together instead of a double whole note.

Tied notes only connect two notes that are the same pitch and are right next to each other.

Ornaments

Glissando musical ornament ornamentation example (by Wikimedia Commons)

There are a lot of different symbols for musical ornaments. A musical ornament (also called a musical embellishment) is an extra note or series of notes that you play to give more flair to your music.

Most musical ornaments are short notes that are added around the main note. They provide depth and showmanship to classical music.

Some common ornaments include turns, mordents, trills, acciaccaturas (also called grace notes), and appoggiaturas.

Duplets

Duplet example drum sheet music (image by Wikimedia Commons)

A duplet is a pair of notes with a little number 2 over them. These notes might be beamed together, or they might have a bracket over them.

Duplet notes are the same as dotted notes. They’re a little bit longer than the rest of the notes. 

For example, if you have a duplet with two quarter notes, the duplet will equal 3 beats. If the duplet is two eighth notes, it equals 3/4 of a beat, the same as a dotted quarter note.

Triplets

triplets in sheet music example (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The symbol for a triplet is the same as a duplet, but with a little 3 instead of a 2. 

Triplets are three notes that are all equally dividing the beat.

Instead of splitting a note in half (like a whole note in two half notes), we split the note into thirds. That’s a triplet.

Once you get practice with reading music, you’ll get the rhythm of triplets pretty quickly.

Rests

There are several different types of rests in music. Rests are breaks in the music that tell the musician when to stop performing, and how long they should stay quiet.

Most music rests follow the same note values and beats as the rest of the music notes. 

For example, a whole note rest is the same length as a whole note: four beats.

types of music rests examples on music staff (image by Wikimedia Commons)

Whole note rest (semibreve rest)

A whole note rest is written as a little bar under the second line on the music staff. It equals four beats of silence.

Rests can also be dotted, just like music notes. A dotted rest means it is one and a half times longer. So a dotted whole note rest would be worth six beats (4 + 2 from the dot).

Half note rest (minim rest)

The half note rest symbol is a little bar like the semibreve rest. But instead of hanging under the second line, the half note rest sits on top of the third line, right in the middle of the staff.

It has a value of two beats. 

Quarter note rest (crochet rest)

The symbol for a quarter note rest looks like a letter “z” with a little “c” underneath it. It sits in the middle of the staff. It can be a bit tricky to draw, but it’s easy to understand. 

The quarter note rest has a value of one beat, just like a quarter note.

Eighth note rest (quaver rest)

Representing 1/2 a beat, the eighth note rest is a fairly common symbol to see in your music. 

The eighth note rest looks like a tiny number 7 with a dot on the tip of it. It sits right in the middle of the staff.

Sixteenth note rest (semiquaver rest)

Last, but not least, we have the sixteenth note rest. A sixteenth note rest equals 1/4 of a beat. 

It looks like an eighth note rest, but it sits on the bottom line of the staff and has another curly flick on top. 

The flicks represent the tails on the music note. So if you see a rest with one flick, it’s an eighth note rest. If the rest has two flicks, it’s a sixteenth note rest.


Thanks for reading! We hope this post helped you learn more about the types of music notes, the notes names, and their beat values. 

Do you have any questions about music theory? Ask us in the comments below!

And remember, practice makes perfect. The more you read music, the better you will be at recognizing different note symbols and names. With enough practice, it will start feeling like a second nature to you.

Jessica Roberts
Latest posts by Jessica Roberts (see all)

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