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Reading the Notes on the staff continued - The Notes and their duration

Very good, Thanks for keeping with the tutorial. This is a tricky part and it takes time to learn how to read sheet music but with a little practice you will be doing it just fine.


This is a whole note. It is the basic note. It is simply a hollow circle with no staff or line on it. In the example here it takes up one full measure in time.

Here are two half notes. They are a hollow circle with a staff (straight line) attached. Each one is half the duration of the whole note. So in this example of one measure in time the two half notes together are as long as the whole note above. With the classical guitar you would pluck the whole and let it ring throughout the measure. With the bottom example you would play the half note then play it again half way through the measure.

Quarter Notes - A quarter note is a solid circle with a line attached. It is easy to see what is happening here. These are quarter notes. In this one measure the quarter note is one quarter the duration of the whole note. So you would play four of these notes in the same time as the whole note.

An Eighth note is a solid circle with a line attached an an extra little line or flag on the end.


. In this case the staffs are connected together for easy recognition. Eight of these notes are the same duration as one whole note.


Sixteenth note - has two flags attached to the line. These notes are very fast. This shows one measure. So in this one measure you have to play sixteen notes. There are even thirty second notes which have three flags attached and sixty fourth notes which have four flags attached. But these are not very common for guitarists.

For Your information: Most of the notes on this page are shown with their staff pointing downward. The staff on a note could point upward too. It doesn't change anything about the note. It is just moved to point up or down for clarity. This image here shows quarter notes with staffs pointing up and with staffs pointing down. Also: the notes are often connected together with bars. This is only to make it easier to read. It doesn't affect the value of the note.

So Lets review the notes and their duration

You have one measure and for now think of this one measure as one second long. If the measure has a whole note in it then you play that whole note for the full second. If it had half notes then each half note would be a half second long and quarter notes are a quarter second long. etc. etc right down to 64th notes which are played extremely fast.

Now lets tie this back together with what we learned about the time of the measure. Thats the 4/4 2/2 notation at the beginning of the piece of work..

continue with tutorial - Ready!