Learning Music Theory Part 2 (Dotted Notes and Rests)

In this blog post, I discuss what I’ve learned about dotted musical notes.  A musical note that is accompanying with a dot usually means a length of a musical note is being extended.  Being extended by how much?  Usually, a dot represents half of a parent note’s length.  So, for an example, a dot of a dotted whole note is half of a whole note, and so this means the length of this dot is 2 in 4/4 time signature staff (or in any other x/4 time signature staff).  Furthermore, I think we can visualize a dot in sound by imagining a parent note’s sound is being sustained for a bit longer by the length of a dot.

Dotted whole note isn’t common.  Nonetheless there are other dotted notes.  On the top of my head and from what I’ve learned about the dotted notes, the other dotted notes are dotted half, quarter, and eighth notes.  Furthermore, rests (silences) can also be dotted.  Thus we also have dotted whole, half, quarter, and eighth rests.

It’s easy to count dotted whole and half notes in writing and voice.  For an example, counting dotted whole note in writing we got 1-2-3-4.

Counting dotted quarter note can be tricky.  Let’s try to count a dotted quarter note shall we?  We can visualize a dot to the right of a quarter note as an eighth note, because half of a quarter note is an eighth note.  Since a dot can be visualized as an eighth note, by using the counting system for eighth notes we can easily count the dotted quarter note.  So, there are 2 eighth notes in a quarter and 1 eighth note in a dot; in total we got 3 eighth notes.  Usually, there will be an additional eighth note to be added right after the dotted quarter note so 2 full beats can be formed.  This means now we have 4 eighth notes in total.  Counting this in writing should be like 1-+-2 +.

Counting dotted eighth note can also be just as tricky as counting dotted quarter note.  Let’s try to count a dotted eighth note shall we?  We can visualize a dot to the right of an eighth note as sixteenth note, because half of an eighth note is a sixteenth note.  Since a dot can be visualized as a sixteenth note, by using the counting system for sixteenth notes we can easily count the dotted eighth note.  So there are 2 sixteenth notes in an eighth and 1 sixteenth note in a dot; in total we got 3 sixteenth notes.  By adding one more sixteenth note to a dotted eighth note (3 sixteenth notes), we got 4 sixteenth notes to round up everything as 1 full beat in a x/4 time signature staff.  How?  4 sixteenth notes = 2 eighth notes = 1 quarter note = 1 beat in x/4 time signature staff.  We can count the dotted eighth note and a sixteenth note together in writing as 1-e-+ a.

We can use the same counting methods of dotted notes to count the dotted rests (silences).  As always, counting the rests in writing should be inside parentheses.  As always, counting the rests in voice should be in lower audible tones.

Anyhow, it’s hard to visualize notes and length of notes in writing, and so I’d made couple images to help you visualize what I’d mentioned earlier.  Click on the images below to enlarge them.

Dotted Notes six four time dotted whole half quarter

Dotted Notes four four time dotted eighth

Dotted Notes six four time dotted rests

Here is a little test that I’d done.  First, the question is what is the length of a dotted eighth note in 4/4 time signature staff (in arithmetic)?  To answer this, we have to do a little math.  First, we ask ourselves, what is half of a quarter?  Half of a quarter is an eighth note we know, but in arithmetic, it’s 1/2.  Since the dot to the right of an eighth note is a 16th note — a dot is half of an eighth note — we can simplify everything down to 16th notes to make things simple to count and what-not.  So we have to ask ourselves what is half of an eighth note in arithmetic?  1/2 of 1/2 = 1/4 or (16th note).  Since we can visualize there are 3 16th notes in a dotted quarter note, and so 3 of 1/4 = 3/4 (as in 3 * 1/4 = 3/1 * 1/4 = 3/4).  So the answer to our question of what is the length of a dotted eight note in 4/4 time signature staff is 3/4 (in arithmetic).

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