Tips & Tricks of the Trade // Music Fundamentals - Dotted Notes



Music Rhythm - Dotted Notes
- 24 August 2016

Whoop! Whoop! Well done!!! Now that you have mastered the skill to identify Note values, it is noteworthy to mention that glancing at most music sheets you would quickly spot some notes followed by dots. Here’s an illustration of what I mean.

Dotted Notes Unlike in spoken languages where the period requires that you stop; the dot in music syntax has different uses, yet all very easy to understand. Except Halt! Please do not stop!!

Dotted Notes
As in the example above, a single dot following a note effectively extends the measure by half its value.
Therefore, a single-dotted Whole Note is equivalent to 1 + 1/2 (one and a half) Notes..
Perhaps another way to explain this is to say, since we know that the length of 1 Whole Note is the same as the length of 4 Quarter Notes, a single-dotted Whole Note is equivalent in duration to 6 Quarter measures!

Still referencing the image above, a single-dotted Half Note is equivalent to 3/4 of a Note - i.e. the Half Note + a Quarter Note. Straight forward right?

Further more, a double-dotted Whole Note is equivalent to 1 Whole Note + 3/4. The second dot adds on half of the value of the preceding dot.

Note: We have used a new symbol in the diagram called a Slur. These markings are used to combine 2 Notes into a single consolidated duration. Thus 2 Minims (Half Notes) combined by a Slur are identical to 1 Whole Note.
If you clapped it out, it would sound like so:

Clap(1) hum(2) hum(3) hum(4)

See.. Exactly like a Semibreve. And if you sounded the vowel A, you would sound it on the 1 beat and sustain it the length of the other 3 beats.

Staccato
Staccato picture

Dots placed above (or below) the note make the sounding of the measure staccato. This means that the note is performed at half its value. Therefore, a Semibreve with staccato marking must then be interpreted as a Half Note.

**NB: In most practical use cases, (especially in singing) Staccato notes are sung short similar to the duration of clapped hands. Though not necessarily technically correct, it does however provide a much more distinguished Staccato feel to the performance as opposed to sounding the notes in legato.

And that’s it for Dotted Notes.

Notes Stems (A Quick note: Observe that most notes have Stems. These are lines extending from either sides of the base shape. Regardless of the stem direction, the Note value does not change - it remains the same. In a later lesson, we will discuss when and how to use the Stems correctly.)

Just like that you have now gained substantial understanding of Note values.

Remember to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!! He he.. See what I did there? ‘Practice in a Bar’.. He he..

In fact it does not matter where you do it, long as you do. So whip out those old choir sheets or church hymnals or just ask Google to show you some. However way you get to do it.
Keep in mind that the more often you expose yourself to this language, the quicker your literacy will improve and the sooner you’ll start LOLing at those memes (:

In the next lesson we address the super fun Time Signatures.

Do you have questions? Post them in the comments area below (:

- written by MegaMidas
Musician at Africappella

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