Note (music)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The most common note values
Left: whole note, below: two half notes, below: four quarter notes.
Right: eighth notes, below: 1/16 notes, below: 1/32 notes (first two individual notes with flags, then the simplified notation as groups with summarizing bars).

A note ( Middle High German note , Middle Latin nota ) is a graphic sign or symbol in music for the written recording of a tone or a beat in a system of lines. Their placement in the grading system is associated with a clef , the pitch (as characters) and duration (as a mathematical ratio) of a tone that is to be played. Their outer shape denotes the note value from which - depending on the selected tempo - the duration of the note results.

Elements of a musical note

Different note values ​​(brevis, whole, half, quarter, etc.)
An eighth note:
1 = flag
2 = stem
3 = notehead

A grade consists of one to three elements:

  • Every note has at least one note head . A hollow note head (black border, white area inside) is used for whole and half notes. A completed note head (fully blackened out) is used for smaller note values, i.e. for quarter notes, eighth notes, etc. A whole note consists of just one note head, which is usually a bit larger and bold.
  • All note values smaller than whole notes have a note stem (rarely also note stalk called): a vertical bar that attaches the side of the note head. With noteheads in the upper area, usually from the third note line, the neck starts on the left of the head and is led downwards. In the case of lower noteheads, the neck starts on the right of the head and is led upwards. Exceptions arise when several voices are notated in the same notation system: Then the necks of the higher voice point upwards and those of the lower voice downwards. In the case of a voice crossing thus the voice leading in general can be clearly read.
  • Short notes from the eighth note - if they are written as individual notes - also have one or more flags on the side of the neck, which always point to the right: eighth notes have one flag, sixteenth notes have two flags, etc. However, there are often several short notes with the same note value behind each other. Then the stems of the notes are usually not individually flagged, but connected to groups with a corresponding number of bars . The notation with such a crossbar is a simplification - it saves the musician from recognizing numerous individual flags.

Additional characters:

  • A point to the right behind any notehead extends the note value by half ( dotted note ).
  • Further graphic signs above or below the notehead can indicate the desired articulation or the volume of a note.

The notes correspond break values , which are listed with differently shaped break symbols. Breaks can also be lengthened by half with a point.


Derived terms


The plural “notes” not only denotes a group of individual notes, but also a written or printed piece of music or an extract from it: for example a manuscript , a bound score or a printed individual part (“You could not rehearse because Markus had his notes forgotten at home ”). The technical term music is a bit broader; in a broader sense, this can also include exercise materials, for example.


The written recording of music is called notation or notation. One speaks of “notation” and “notation” even if the recording does not contain any notes in the narrower sense, as is the case with graphic notation .

See also

  • Notation (music) - for developing and alternative systems of notation
  • Tablature (alternative system of notation)
  • Notation (preparation of sheet music for printing)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Note in, accessed on April 12, 2012.


  • Albert C. Vinci: The musical notation. Basics of traditional music notation. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1988, ISBN 3-7618-0900-X .
  • Wieland Ziegenrücker: General music theory with questions and tasks for self-control. German Publishing House for Music, Leipzig 1977; Paperback edition: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, and music publisher B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1979, ISBN 3-442-33003-3 , pp. 16–62 ( Von den Noten , Vom Rhythmus ).
  • Egon Sarabèr: The Art of Reading Notes . For beginners and advanced . 2nd, improved edition 2018, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, ISBN 978-3-86948-626-0

Web links

Commons : sheet music  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wikibooks: Music  education : sheet music - learning and teaching materials