You have learned that notes are used to determine pitch. Notes are also used to specify duration.
The duration of a note is largely dependent on the beat. A whole note is equal to two half notes. A whole note is also equal to four quarter notes. Does this mean that all whole notes represent the same duration in every piece of music that has ever been written? Absolutely not. The notes represent a fixed relationship with the other notes in a specific piece of music. The actual duration or indication of speed is based on the phrases provided at the beginning of a piece of music, or upon the tempo desired by the musicians or conductor.
There is also notation used to specify silence, or rests. The rests are also based on a fixed relationship with other rests in a piece of music. Thus, four quarter rests equal a whole rest. The below list should be printed and kept readily available until it is completely memorized. The only note that you may not be familiar with is the dotted note. A dotted note means that the duration is 1.5 times the length of a non dotted note. Thus, a dotted quarter note
is equal to 1.5 quarter notes, which is the same as a quarter note and and eigth note.
Tempo indications are almost always in Italian and are typically located above the first staff. Tempo indications convey the speed of the music as recommended by the composer or arranger.
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