Understanding Dotted Notes
Dotted notes may seem confusing, but they are easily explained. You do, however, need to have an understanding of note lengths to make sense of them.
A dot placed next to a note is called a rhythm dot, and increases a note’s duration by 50%; the note is held for its own length, plus half of its original length:
- Half Note
A half note = 2 beats in common time
Half of that length = 1 beat
2 beats + 1 beat = 3 beats
A dotted half note has a total duration of 3 beats.
- Quarter Note
A quarter note = 1 beat
Half of that length = 1 eighth-note beat
1 quarter note + 1 eighth note = 1½ beats
A dotted quarter note has a total duration of 1 1/2 beats.
Double Dotted Note
While a single rhythm dot increases a note by 50%, two dots increase it by 75% (the first dot adds 50%, and the second dot adds 25%):
- A double-dotted quarter note equals 1 quarter note + 1 eighth note + 1 sixteenth note, or 1¾ beats.
(Not to be confused with staccato; a dot placed above or below a note-head.)
See More Musical Symbols:
■Staff & Barlines ■Note Lengths ■Articulation Marks ■Repeat Signs
■The Grand Staff ■Dotted Notes ■Dynamics & Volume ■Segno & Coda Signs
■Time Signatures ■Accidentals ■Key Signatures ■Pedal Marks
■Tempo Commands ■Piano Chords ■Music Rests ■8va & Octave Commands