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The longest note length in common use today is called a semibreve or whole note and looks like this: 

The note half the length of a semibreve or whole note is called a minim or half note and looks like this:

When reading music notation any note with a stem can be rotated so that its stem goes downwards from the left-hand side of the note head. The note-lengths are the same whether the notation shows the stems going up or down.

The note a quarter the length of a semibreve or whole note is called a crotchet or quarter note
and looks like this:

The note an eighth the length of a semibreve or whole note is called a quaver or eighth note
and looks like this: In musical notation, when there is a group of 2 or more quavers, sometimes their tails become a linking straight line between the ends of their stems.



Remember when you are reading music that:

2 x     =  

2 x     =   4 x    =  

2 x  =   4 x  =   8 x    =  

Copyright 2006 Brian Farley, All Rights Reserved.

Author Information:

Brian Farley has been a professional Musical Director and pianist since 1974 and worked worldwide in the top echelons of the entertainment industry. His duet sheet music website "Easy Duets, Sheet Music for Schools, Musical Instrument Students" provides original musical duets and trios for early level students to play together. It also has some good free "reading music notation" information.


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If you go to our easy music pieces page you will find lots of simple but fun, original tunes to learn if you are beginning to play a musical instrument. This site also has these easy tunes arranged as duets for piano with many different solo instruments.