Whole note

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Figure 1. A whole note and a whole rest. Whole note and rest.svg
Figure 1. A whole note and a whole rest.
Drum pattern, Figure rythmique noire hampe haut.svg s on bass and snare,
accompanied by ride patterns of various
duple lengths from Figure rythmique ronde.svg to 128th (all at Figure rythmique noire hampe haut.svg =60)
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Loudspeaker.svg   16 Loudspeaker.svg   32 Loudspeaker.svg   64 Loudspeaker.svg   128

In music, a whole note (American) or semibreve (British) is a note represented by a hollow oval note head and no note stem. Its length is equal to four beats in 4
4
time, that is the whole 4
4
measure (or bar). Most other notes are fractions of the whole note (e.g., half notes and quarter notes are played for one half and one quarter the duration of the whole note, respectively).

Music form of art using sound

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

Musical note sign used in musical notation, a pitched sound

In music, a note is the pitch and duration of a sound, and also its representation in musical notation. A note can also represent a pitch class. Notes are the building blocks of much written music: discretizations of musical phenomena that facilitate performance, comprehension, and analysis.

Beat (music) basic unit of time in music and music theory

In music and music theory, the beat is the basic unit of time, the pulse, of the mensural level. The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to a piece of music, or the numbers a musician counts while performing, though in practice this may be technically incorrect. In popular use, beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: pulse, tempo, meter, specific rhythms, and groove.

Contents

The symbol is first found in music notation from the late thirteenth century, and its British name derives from the semibrevis of mensural notation. The whole note and whole rest may also be used in music of free rhythm, such as Anglican chant, to denote a whole measure.

Mensural notation musical notation system used for European vocal polyphonic music

Mensural notation is the musical notation system used for European vocal polyphonic music from the later part of the 13th century until about 1600. The term "mensural" refers to the ability of this system to describe precisely measured rhythmic durations in terms of numerical proportions between note values. Its modern name is inspired by the terminology of medieval theorists, who used terms like musica mensurata or cantus mensurabilis to refer to the rhythmically defined polyphonic music of their age, as opposed to musica plana or musica choralis, i.e., Gregorian plainchant. Mensural notation was employed principally for compositions in the tradition of vocal polyphony, whereas plainchant retained its own, older system of neume notation throughout the period. Besides these, some purely instrumental music could be written in various forms of instrument-specific tablature notation.

Anglican chant

Anglican chant, also known as English chant, is a way to sing unmetrical texts, including psalms and canticles from the Bible, by matching the natural speech-rhythm of the words to the notes of a simple harmonized melody. This distinctive type of chant is a significant element of Anglican church music.

Description

A whole note (American) or semibreve (British) is a musical note represented by a hollow oval note head—like a half note (or minim)—and no note stem (see Figure 1). Its length is equal to four beats in 4
4
time, that is the whole 4
4
measure (or bar). Most other notes are fractions of the whole note. Half notes last for one half the duration of the whole note, quarter notes (or crotchets) last for one quarter the duration, and a double whole note (or breve, hence the British name semibreve) lasts twice as long as a whole note.

Half note musical note duration

In music, a half note (American) or minim (British) is a note played for half the duration of a whole note and twice the duration of a quarter note. It was given its Latin name because it was the shortest of the five note values used in early medieval music notation. In time signatures with 4 as the bottom number, such as 4
4
or 3
4
, the half note is two beats long. However, when 2 is the bottom number, the half note is one beat long.

The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are contained in each measure (bar), and which note value is equivalent to a beat.

Quarter note musical note duration

A quarter note (American) or crotchet (British) is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note. Often, musicians will say that a crotchet is one beat, but this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music; a quarter note may or may not be the beat. Quarter notes are notated with a filled-in oval note head and a straight, flagless stem. The stem usually points upwards if it is below the middle line of the stave or downwards if it is on or above the middle line. However, the stem direction may differentiate more than one part. The head of the note also reverses its orientation in relation to the stem.

A related symbol is the whole rest (or semibreve rest). It usually applies for an entire measure, but may occasionally mean a rest for the duration of a whole note, in longer time signatures such as 3
2
or 5
4
. (An entire measure rest is drawn centered within the measure, whereas a rest lasting for a whole note is aligned to where the note would be.) Whole rests are drawn as filled-in rectangles generally hanging under the second line from the top of a musical staff, though they may occasionally be put under a different line (or ledger line) in more complicated polyphonic passages, or when two instruments or vocalists are written on one staff and one is temporarily silent.

A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music, marked by a symbol indicating the length of the pause. Each rest symbol and name corresponds with a particular note value for length, indicating how long the silence should last.

A ledger line or leger line is used in Western musical notation to notate pitches above or below the lines and spaces of the regular musical staff. A line slightly longer than the note head is drawn parallel to the staff, above or below, spaced at the same distance as the lines within the staff.

The whole note and whole rest may also be used in music of free rhythm, such as Anglican chant, to denote a whole measure, irrespective of the time of that measure. The whole rest can be used this way in almost all or all forms of music.

History

The symbol is first found in music notation from the late thirteenth century ( Morehen and Rastall 2001 ).

The whole note derives from the semibrevis of mensural notation, and this is the origin of the British name. The American name is a calque of the German ganze Note.

The Catalan, French and Spanish names for the note (meaning "round") derive from the fact that the semibrevis was distinguished by its round stemless shape, which is true as well of the modern form (in contrast to the double whole note or shorter values with stems). The Greek name means "whole". Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese names mean "whole note".

See also

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