Music Theory 101 - Dotted Notes, Rests, Time Signatures and More

01
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Dotted Notes

Dotted notes

  Wikimedia Commons

A dot that is placed after the note to indicate a change in the duration of a note. The dot adds half of the value of the note to itself. For example, a dotted half note gets 3 beats - value of a half note is 2, half of 2 is 1 so 2 + 1 = 3.
  • dotted whole note = 6 beats
  • dotted half note = 3
  • dotted quarter note = 1 1/2
  • dotted eighth note = 3/4
  • dotted sixteenth note = 3/8
02
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Rests

Rests

Wikimedia Commons

 

A sign which signifies a measured silence. A whole rest is silence equivalent to the value of a whole note (4), a half rest is silence equivalent to the value of a half note (2). To illustrate more clearly:

  • whole rest = 4
  • half rest = 2
  • quarter rest = 1
  • eighth rest = 1/2
  • sixteenth rest = 1/4
03
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Notes on the Treble Clef (Spaces)

Notes on a treble clef

 

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Notes that are on the spaces of a treble clef. We will go from the lowest space to the highest; the notes are F - A - C - E. These notes are actually easy to remember, just think of your FACE! Remember, on the piano when we say treble clef, it's played by the right hand. Memorize these notes and their positions on the spaces. Take note of the notes on the spaces from the illustration above.

04
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Notes on the Treble Clef (Lines)

Lines and notes of the treble clef

 

liangpv / Getty Images

The five horizontal lines that make up a music staff are called leger lines. The notes on the leger lines are as follows from lowest to highest: E - G - B - D - F. You can make it easier to remember by creating mnemonics like; Every Good Boy Does Fine or Every Good Boy Deserves Football. Memorize these notes and their positions on the lines. Take note of the notes on the lines from the illustration above.

05
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Notes on the Bass Clef (Spaces)

Notes on a bass clef

 Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

These are the notes on the spaces of a bass clef, they are as follows from the lowest space to the highest: A - C - E - G. You can make it easier to remember by creating mnemonics like; All Cows Eat Grass. Remember, on the piano the bass clef is played by the left hand.

06
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Notes on the Bass Clef (Lines)

bass clef

 wikimedia commons

These are the notes on the leger lines of the bass clef. They are as follows from lowest line to the highest: G - B - D - F - A. You can make it easier to remember by creating mnemonics like; Great Big Dogs Frighten Amy. Here's an illustration

07
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Middle C

Middle C on the grand staff

 Wikimedia Commons

It is usually the first thing piano instructors teach students. The C sits on the leger line between the treble and bass clef staffs.

08
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Bar Lines and Measures

Bar Lines and Measures

 

pablohart / Getty Images

Bar lines are the vertical lines you see on a music staff which divides the staff into measures. Inside a measure there are notes and rests corresponding to the number of beats determined by a time signature.
09
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Time Signature

musical staff showing time signature

 CSA Images/ B&W Archive Collection / Getty Images 

It indicates how many notes and what kind of notes in a measure. The time signatures commonly used are 4/4 (common time) and 3/4. There is also 5/2, 6/8 etc. The number on top is the number of notes per measure while the number on the bottom indicates what kind of note. Here's a guide:

  • bottom # is 1 = whole note
  • bottom # is 2 = half note
  • bottom # is 4 = quarter note
  • bottom # is 6 = 8th note
  • bottom # is 16 = 16th note
10
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Sharps and Flats

Sharps and Flats

 Wikimedia Commons

  • Sharp - To make a note higher in pitch, the symbol placed before a note to raise it one half step.
  • Flat - A symbol placed in front of a note in a piece of music to lower it by one half step