Reading Music: Tied Notes

What Do Tied Notes Look Like and What Do They Mean?

ties
Ties. Image Courtesy of Denelson83 from Wikimedia Commons

Learning to read music properly is integral for any musician if they wanted to perform a piece accurately. A composer may use many musical notations in a composition that a musician is expected to comprehend. Thus, it is important to take the time to research what each musical notation means.

A musical notation is a symbol that instructs how a note or melody should be played with regards to pitch, rhythm, tempo, note value and expression.

 A tied note is one such musical notation.

What Is a Tied Note?

A tied note is a musical notation represented by a curved line that connects two notes of the same pitch. In a tie, the second note is not played but its value is added to the first note.

Why Are Tied Notes Used?

Ties can be used when a note is too long that it carries over into the next bar. Ties are also used when the value of a note cannot be represented by only one note.

Notation Placement

Ties are positioned either underneath the affected notes (when the stems of the notes are pointing up) or above notes (when the stems of the notes are pointing down).

Beat Duration

As already mentioned, tied notes add the value of the second note to the first note. For example, 2 quarter notes that are tied together will be held for 2 beats. Or, a half note and an eighth note tied together will be held for 2 1/2 beats.

The table below shows you more examples of tied notes and its value.

Tied Notes and its Duration
Tied NotesDuration
half note + quarter note= held for 3 beats
half note + eighth note= held for 2 1/2 beats
quarter note + quarter note= held for 2 beats
quarter note + eighth note= held for 1 1/2 beats
eighth note + eighth note= held for 1 beat
sixteenth note + sixteenth note= held for 1/2 beat