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Music Notes & the Measures

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

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Introduction


We are coming to the final part of music theory (basics) where we cover everything we need to know to start reading the notes and playing the piano keys.


As we learnt from the previous post about time signatures (e.g. common time), the music notes need to fit in a specific structure to be able to write them on the music sheet. To understand the measures we want to introduce the different types of notes. This helps us to learn how to count the notes and also how long we should press & hold the piano keys.


Semibreve


We often call this note the' whole note'. We count the whole note for four beats and press the piano key and hold it down for four measures. The counting speed needs to be solid and steady, depending on the writer's point. We will talk about the metronome and the tempo later on.


In the example above we need to press and hold down the A4 on the piano for four beats.


Minim


Each minim note has two beats individually. So you count each minim for two beats. when writing music in a common time, each bar is supposed to have four beats. Similar to the example above after the whole note we need to draw a bar as we reach the four measures. Now imagine splitting the whole note into two halves. Therefore in the common time music sheet, we can have two minims in one bar.



In the example above we have two minim notes of F4. So we need to press and hold down the piano key for two beats (1 - 2 ), and then press down F4 again for another two beats (3- 4) and then we have finished the bar.


Note: Minims are often called half notes as well.


Crotchet


Now Imagine splitting the whole note into four equal pieces, or splitting each minim into two even pieces. Therefore in a piece of common timing music, each bar could have four crotchets all together possibly. In another word, each crochet note has a measured value of one!

In the example above we have four crotchet notes, and each crochet note here is a different key on the piano with the same measure value of one. Therefore we start by playing each of the notes by one count each ( E4 - G4 - E4 - A4).


Quavers


Now, let's split the whole note into eight notes or alternatively split a crotchet note into two halves. As you can see in the example below quaver (or quarter) notes have a specific shape when they are connected to each other. However, it doesn't change the actual value of the notes when the shape changes when there are next to each other.


When quaver notes appear on the music sheet, it is easier to count the bars with the half measures (n) which will allow us to count each quaver individually. Looking at the example above we have four quavers ( which you can see the two main shapes of this note) and one minim in one bar. the total amount of notes measures sums up to four beats.


When we play this piece of music on the piano, we need to press the corresponding notes on the piano with the correct counting. You can try this on your piano or keyboard at your own pace.


Note: The range of notes from the whole note up to the quavers is the most common type of note we need to know at the start. But the expansion of the notes will not stop and this will continue until the measures are playable.


Here you can have a good look at the chart where all the types of notes are at a glance.


Rest Notes


When we see the silent notes we attend to read them ( and count them) but we rest by not playing them on the keys. If we are performing in a band, other performers may not play the notes when they have reached the rest notes as well. Rest notes have the same names as above by their measure, however, they have completely different shapes.



In the next blog, we will aim to post some examples with a combination of all the lessons and content we have covered so far. Hope you understand the basics of music theory and enjoyed it!

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