Music Classroom

Introduction to Reading Western Music 2: Note Values - Basics 1

By: Prenashan Singh

Introduction to Reading Western Music - Lesson 2:  Note Values – Basics 1



Following the previous lesson, we should have the basics of measure and beats in music


Note Values and Duration

Now that we understand the concept of Beats and Measures it is now possible to start reading music. We know how to conceptualize the beat now we can start to see how the duration of a note is written.


Let’s start with the basics:


Whole note a.k.a Semibreve            

Theory: This note is held for 4 beats or 4 counts. It is written in musical Notation as .

We refer to the example of the ticking of a clock again. We determine this whole note/semibreve as 4 ticks of the clock.  So it’s is held for      1   2    3    4   ticks. We play the note on the first beat and hold it for the duration of the 4 beats.


Practice: Tap your foot to the ticking of a clock and count to the 4 beat time. Then once you have the rhythm hum or sing on the count of one and hold it for till the 4th beat and then stop. Count Four beats again and then start it again.


S  = Start

s* = Stop

s*S = Stop and Start on next tick


1    2    3    4    1    2    3    4    1    2    3    4    1    2    3    4



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