Note values and counting

Here are a few hints to help with understanding the timing of music.

Firstly check the time signature.  If the top number is 4 or there is a big C (for common time) then you have to count four beats in every bar.  If the top number is 3 then there are three beats in a bar.  Those are the two most common times which are used in our music.

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 8.30.24 AMA crotchet is a black note with a straight tail – it has the value of one beat.  If you add a flag to the end it becomes a half beat and is call a quaver.  Every time you add another flag it halves in value to become a semi-quaver, demi-semi quaver etc.

White notes are longer.  A minim is a white note with a tail and has a value of two beats.  Without a tail its a semi-breve with a value of four beats.

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 8.42.18 AMA triplet is when we squeeze three notes into the space that normally holds two.  In the example here three half notes are squeezed into one beat (rather than two half beats) so they go a little quicker in order to fit

There is a similar system for rests.  The squiggle has a value of 1 beat rest.  The little flag is half a beat etc.

Get into the habit of counting in your head … we all do it to keep in touch with where we are in the music.  Whenever there is a bar line the next note is “One” and starts the counting again.  Practice and enjoy!

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