Music Theory: Introduction to Musical Notes

Music Note Tree

Music Theory: Introduction to Musical Notes

One of the best places to begin from when learning music is having the full knowledge of the musical notes. This includes: the values, duration and the names of the notes.

Also note that consideration must be taken into the your ability to draw them as well as the different parts of the notes which will in turn aid your ability to sight read the said notes.

This article seeks to cover the in-depth analysis of the above while helping your sight-reading journey.

Let us start with the names and symbols of the different musical notes we have.

1. Double Whole Note (Breve)


The breve has the value of 8 beats and it is twice the duration of a Semibreve. The breve is not widely used in recent music but the knowledge of it is not a bad idea.


2. Whole Note (Semibreve)


The name “Whole Note” is how the Americans call the note while Semibreve is the name for the British.
The Semibreve looks like a O but in an oval shape.

The value of the Semibreve is equal to 4 beats which is the half of a breve. This means that a Semibreve is sustained for four counts while being played.


3. Half Note (Minim)


A minim which is other wise called a half note by the Americans has a note head just like the Semibreve but with a stem (thin vertical line) drawn on the right hand side of the note head.

A stem is a thin vertical line drawn on the note head to divide it into half. So let us say we have a Semibreve; a stem on a Semibreve would turn it to a minim.

The minim is made up of the value of 2 beats which is half of a Semibreve.


4. Quarter Note (Crochet)


A crochet is exactly likes Minim but with a shaded note head. The shaded note head halves the minim into two halves.

The crochet has the value of 1 beat which is half as long as a minim when played.


5. Eight Note (Quaver)

A quaver looks like a crochet in that the note head is shaded but with a tail which comes out from the stem which is sometimes seen as a hook or flag.

The duty of the said tail is to act as a divider, dividing the note to two. The Quaver has ½ as the value which is half of a crochet.


6. Sixteenth Note (Semiquaver)


A Semiquaver is called the 16th note by the Americans and it looks like the quaver but with two tails protruding from the stem.

The Semiquaver is worth, ¼ beat as its value which is half of the Quaver.


7. 32nd Note (Demisemiquaver)


Demisemiquaver looks like a Semiquaver but it possesses three stems and it is worth ⅛ beat as the value which is half as long as the Semiquaver when played.

To have a full clue of the different musical notes, the infographic below will give you full Understanding of the notes.

Note Chart


There are other several notes after Demisemiquaver but we would rather cover that in another article if you are interested. To have it just hit the comment section with your request and we will get it to you ASAP.


Let us proceed!

The Music Note Tree

Music Note Tree

This is a pyramid-like chain that aids in the visualization of the relationship between the musical notes in respect to the value of the notes in question.

Points to Note!

The musical note stem can either point upward or downward depending on the usage.
Once a musical note points downwards, the stem comes out from the left side of the note head but when the note is facing up, the stem comes out from the right hand side.

Note Stem

Also note that the stem must come out of the right hand side irrespective of whether the stem is pointing upward or downward.

A better way of Understanding this is to note that music is being read from the left to the right and not the other way round and the tail should and must point to the right which is the direction of the music.

Beaming Notes Together

Beaming Notes

This is the process of joining two or more notes that has tails and are in close proximity to each other together. The notes in question are notes that come after the crochet which are Quaver, Semiquaver, Demisemiquaver and so on. The joining must always be from the tail.

Mixed beaming Notes
Mixed beaming Notes

This is where we draw the curtain for today’s episode of Musical Notes (Introduction). Till I come your way again, I remain your Online Music tutor!

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