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

01
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Dotted Notes

Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons. Dotted Half Note
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

Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons. Types of Rests
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
Notes on the treble clef. Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons
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)

Notes
Notes on the treble clef. Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons
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 Deseves 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)

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. Here's an illustration.

06
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Notes on the Bass Clef (Lines)

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

Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons. Middle C
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

Photo Courtesy of Denelson83 from Wikimedia Commons. Bar Line
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

Photo Courtesy of Mst from Wikimedia Commons. 3/4 Time Signature
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

Photo Courtesy of Denelson83 from Wikimedia Commons. F Sharp
  • 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