Muze Online: lesson 9
Dotted notes, ties and slurs
If a dot follows a note, this indicates that half of the note value has been added on. If it helps, think of it as a ratio of 1: 1.5.
Dotted notes are the value of the note + half of that value
So 1/4 note + half of 1/4 (1/8) = 1/4 + 1/8
It can help to split the note in half first to see which smaller note values fit into that half (e.g. half of a crotchet is a quaver note) so that it is then easier to determine how much needs to be added on to make one-and-a-half. See the following examples:
A dotted crotchet includes 1 and a half crotchet beats (a crotchet contains 2 quavers, therefore 2 quavers plus half of 20 quavers: 2+1 = 3 quavers)
A dotted minim includes 1 and a half minim beats (a minim contains 2 crotchets, therefore half of a minim is a crotchet, so a dotted minim is 2 crotchets plus one crotchet: 2+1 = 3 crotchets)
A dotted quaver includes 1 and a half quavers (a quaver contains 2 semiquavers, therefore half of a
quaver is a semiquaver, so a dotted quaver is 2 semiquavers plus one semiquaver: 2+ 1 = 3
The diagram below also explains it well, including a dotted semibreve:
To make it easier to read music, note values are grouped in certain ways which make the beats of the bar easier to count. This means however that when a note lasts longer than the beat it is being grouped into, a tie is needed.
For example, the bar below is in 4/4 time, showing that we have 4 crotchet beats per bar. The tie indicates that the second note is an extension of the first one, so it doesn’t need to be rearticulated – the minim G is held on for an extra semiquaver before moving to the A above it. There is no other way to write a note value containing 9 semiquavers in this context – the simplest way is to write a minim (containing 8 semiquavers) and tie it to a singular semiquaver which falls on the third beat of the bar.
Don’t confuse ties and slurs!
Ties are used to extend notes by beaming them together, but the same marking can also be used for notes which are different in pitch and appear next to each other, in this context the markings are called ‘slurs’, and they indicate a smooth transition between notes (for example, if a word in a song is supposed to cover many different notes, rather than each syllable having its own note, this is called a melisma). See the following example: