Quarter notes are important

♫ Knowledge 2: measure, note values ​​and rest values

Important bases for reading music are the measure, note values ​​and rest values. But what is behind the terms?

The beat

The term "measure" is important for understanding the note value system.

What's this?

Measure = a single unit in the structure of a piece of music

Let's take an example:

4/4 time

We say 4 beats one after the other form one Tact .

So if you counted to 4 once, 1 bar would be:

Count evenly to four, then start all over again: These frequently occurring units in music and notes make up the 4 ‑ quarter time (4/4 time).

It is important to train this pulse (the meter). It is crucial to be able to implement rhythmic things later.

It is best to start with exercises that consist of “whole notes”. This means that when you play notes, you always count to 4 (1 bar) before the next note sounds. In this way you can build up and train an “inner” meter.

You can see one in the graphic whole note - a notehead without a stem. This note lasts a whole measure.

In 4-quarter time, this note lasts 4 beats. So you always have to count 1… 2… 3… 4… before a new note sounds.

Half note / quarter note

Half notes and quarter notes have note stems:

A whole note has the duration of whole Tact.

A half note has the duration of half Tact.

A Quarter note only takes one quarter of the beat.

This becomes clear in the following overview:

whole note -> whole Measure (4 beats)

half note -> sake Measure (2 beats)

Quarter note -> quarter time (1 count time)

These are important note values. Of course there are more!


Look at that Video on the rhythm with whole, half and quarter notes at!

Eighth notes

So far you have always counted 1… 2… 3… 4… in 4/4 time and played the following note values

Now we're just looking at one counting time - that is, counting 1 ...

Each 2 eighth notes are played on a beat. These Eighth notes you can recognize them by the so-called "flags".

Several eighth notes can also be "connected" by a bar. This replaces the flags.

In the following overview you can see again how the note values ​​are divided in 4/4 time. In theory, a total of 8 eighth notes “fit” into 4/4 time - always 2 on a beat.

Sixteenth notes

Plus there is still Sixteenth notes. You can recognize them by 2 flags or 2 bars. In our 4/4 time there are 4 sixteenth notes for every beat!

Pauses / pause values

It might sound a bit strange, but there are also for music Breaks extremely important. But how will Breaks (so Pause values) shown in the score?

In order to learn to read notes, it is also necessary to learn the symbols for pause values.

Just like the length of notes, the length of pauses is determined accordingly and can be assigned as follows:

Here is an overview of all the important break values:

Whole break

With 4-quarter time, it lasts whole break one whole Tact.

The whole rest is shown "hanging" on the staff.

Half a break

With 4-quarter time it takes half break one half Tact.

Half the break is entered "lying down" on the staff line.

Quarter break

The pause value Quarter break: it lasts 1/4 a 4-quarter time.

Eighth rest

The pause value Eighth rest: it lasts 1/8 a 4-quarter time.

Sixteenth rest

The pause value Sixteenth rest: it lasts 1/16 a 4-quarter time.

More breaks

Even shorter breaks, which are much rarer, follow the same principle:

Thirty-second break (1/32)

Sixty-fourth break (1/64):


If there is a point after a note, it will be played half as long.

Point = extension by half:

In the example above, a half note with a dot is now 3 beats long instead of 2 beats (2 + 1).

More time signatures

So far you've got to know 4/4 time. It's also the most common time signature.

You usually count 1… 2… 3… 4… 1… 2… 3… 4… etc.

There are many more time signatures with every imaginable variation. Here are two more common time signatures:

  • 3/4 - time
  • 6/8 - time

3/4 time

Here is a brief explanation: The 3/4 measure is based on three quarter notes per measure. The beats then look like this:

The 3/4 clock will be known to most of them from the waltz.

This is associated with typical counting: 1 … 2 … 3… / 1 … 2 … 3 …

As you can see, the emphasis is on 1.

6/8 time

Actually it is 6/8 time mathematically just as long as a 3/4 time.

What is the difference now?

The basis is a total of 6 eighth notes and therefore 6 beats / counting units.

The emphasis is on that 1 and the 4. Only when the complete unit of these 6 counting units has ended does a new cycle begin. A 6/8 time “feels” different than a 3/4 time. The following is counted:

1 … 2 … 3… 4 … 5 … 6 … / 1 … 2 … 3… 4 … 5 … 6 …

Go to Knowledge 3: Notes in the Treble Clef

Back to Knowledge 1: Staff and Note Names

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