All about music notes

(whole, half, quarter, sixteenth and other notes)

Music Notes

The image above shows five different notes. From the left, they are the whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note and sixteenth note.

The terms whole, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth refer to the duration for which a note is played. Two half notes, for example, would be played during the same amount of time as one whole note.

That means that a quarter note is one-fourth of a whole note. An eighth note is one-eighth of a whole note. And a sixteenth note is one-sixteenth of a whole note.

So for quarter notes, you would play four of them during the time in which a whole note would be played. Or, there would be 16 sixteenth notes played during the duration of a whole note.

Whole notes

A whole note has the same time value as two half notes, or four quarter notes, or eight eighth notes, etc. It is represented by a ring with no stem. It is the longest note that is in common use today.

Half notes

Half notes look like whole notes but have a stem added to them.

Two half notes equal the same duration as a whole note:


Quarter notes

Four quarter notes equal the same duration as one whole note.

Quarter notes look like half notes except that they are a solid color.

The total duration of two quarter notes lasts as long as one half note:


Eighth notes

Eight eighth notes equal the same duration as one whole note.

Eight notes are drawn the same way as quarter notes, but they have a flag added to them.

Two eighth notes have the same duration as one quarter note:


Sixteenth notes

Sixteenth notes look just like eighth notes but with a second flag added to it.

Two 16th notes will have the same duration as one eighth note:


32nd notes and other notes

A 32nd note, as you might guess, has three flags, and a 64th note would have four. But these notes are uncommon.