"Dotted" notes.

stevo

Senior Member
In my ever expanding quest for learning, I have been doing fairly good with reading music, but I can't seem to get my mind around the dotted notes, or more specifically why use a dotted note as opposed to the acutal note? This is one of those Aha moments waiting to happen, and once I "get it", the light will go on.
So if someone is good at explaining things, maybe it will help me.

Thanks.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
A dotted note is 1/2 more of that note. So a dotted 1/4 note is held for 1/4 plus 1/8th note in time. If my old mind remembers correctly.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
The dot adds half the notes value to the note.

If you have a dotted half note it would have the smae time value of three quater notes.

The half note equals two quarter notes and the dot adds one quarter note.

HTH
 
B

blade123

Guest
A dotted quarter is 2 8ths+half of that (1 8th), so 3 8ths (or a quarter and a half).
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
...more specifically why use a dotted note as opposed to the actual note?
Thanks.
The "actual" note would need to be multiple notes tied together. The dot allows the use of one note instead of two or more tied notes.

For example:
One dotted quarter notes = a quarter tied to an eighth note

One dotted eighth note = an eighth tied to a sixteenth note
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
As Jeff has stated, there is never a time when the dotted note can be expressed as a simple, singular note value without a dot There is no other note value that represents a dotted half note or a dotted quarter note, for example.

This week, one of my students could not for the life of him understand the dotted note. He sounded a lot like you. In drum notation, dotted notes and tied note values are often confusing because the actual note is not extended through the full value of the dotted note or the tied note. That's why we roll; a roll is often a tied note value and allows drummers to extend the value of a note. In some sense, using dotted notes is a short hand. A dotted quarter note equals a quarter note with an eighth rest, right? For drummers anyway. The dotted notation is a little easier on the eye than using rests. But if you are reading a chart where the horns are actually playing the dotted values, this would most definitely affect the way you play your part.
 

Dawson49

Member
As another drum instructor, I agree with what jeffwj stated.

Another way to think about dotted notes is that they represent yet another way to notate drum music. A dotted note could just as easily have been written with a "standard" note followed by a rest of half that value, i.e., a dotted quarter note could have been written with a quarter note followed by an eighth rest, etc. Dotted notes are a matter of economy (in space) when notating.

Since unlike other instruments, drum notation and playing doesn't involve sustain, there's a slightly different mental approach to the same subject.
 

MattRitter

Senior Member
We had a thread about this topic several months ago, and it turned into a rather heated debate.

Here is the way that I think of dots:

***A "normal" note divides into 2 of the next smaller note value. A dotted note divides into 3 of the next smaller note value. So...for example...a "normal" quarter note divides into 2 eighth notes. A dotted quarter note divides into 3 eighth notes.***

To me, this way of thinking is SO much easier than "A dot adds half the value" or "A dot increases the value by 50%" or any of the other ways that the concept is sometimes worded. These various ways of wording it are mathematically correct, but they are much more difficult for many people to understand and remember. PLUS, perhaps more importantly, the way that I have explained it above is rooted in the historical origins of music notation. I have done quite a bit of research on this. Here is a link to one small example of my findings on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensural_notation

In case you don't want to read the whole article, here is an excerpt that is particularly relevant:

"In order to avoid remaining ambiguities, a separator dot (tractulus) was introduced to make clear which notes were supposed to form a triplex group together. It could be placed between a long and a breve to enforce perfect (triplex) value on the former when the latter would otherwise have imperfected it (signum perfectionis)."

As many of you probably know, "perfect" refers to things that are grouped or divided into 3's, while "imperfect" refers to things that are grouped or divided into 2's. So, you see...the idea of a dot indicating 3 is rooted in the ancient origins of music notation. And it is SO easy to grasp! I truly wish my first teacher had explained it that way to me. Instead, he told me "A dot increases the value of a note by 50%"...and I was confused for about a decade. Thankfully, my own research led me to the historical roots and this other way of looking at it.
 

MattRitter

Senior Member
By the way, also check out "Lies My Music Teacher Told Me" by Gerald Eskelin. It explains dots in the manner that I discussed, plus it offers an eye-opening perspective on countless other aspects of music and music notation. I highly recommend this book.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
It's so much easier to just memorize:
a dotted half note is three beats
a dotted quarter is one and a half :)

I was taught that a dotted half note roll lasts to the upbeat of the third beat, Whereas a tied half note to a quarter note would end on the downbeat of the third beat, right? A whole note roll would end on the upbeat of the forth beat, whereas a dotted half note tied to a quarter note would end on the downbeat of four. Wouldn't a trumpet player play a dotted half note through the whole measure in 3/4 time? Whereas he would stop on the third beat if a half note were tied to a quarter note. Would there be a difference if you had a dotted quarter note as opposed to a quarter note tied to a eighth note in the same way? The dotted quarter note on one would last to the upbeat of two. But a quarter note tied to an eighth note would end on the next downbeat, right?
 

MattRitter

Senior Member
It's so much easier to just memorize:
a dotted half note is three beats
a dotted quarter is one and a half :)
Well...not exactly. Or maybe I should say "not always." In 3/2 time, a dotted half note would be a beat and a half. In many (if not most) 6/8 rhythms, a dotted quarter note would actually equal one beat. This is another example of why I like the idea that a dot simply makes a note be equal to 3 of the next smaller note value instead of 2. It's simple, it's always true, and it's rooted in the historical origins of music notation.

I was taught that a dotted half note roll lasts to the upbeat of the third beat, Whereas a tied half note to a quarter note would end on the downbeat of the third beat, right? A whole note roll would end on the upbeat of the forth beat, whereas a dotted half note tied to a quarter note would end on the downbeat of four. Wouldn't a trumpet player play a dotted half note through the whole measure in 3/4 time? Whereas he would stop on the third beat if a half note were tied to a quarter note. Would there be a difference if you had a dotted quarter note as opposed to a quarter note tied to a eighth note in the same way? The dotted quarter note on one would last to the upbeat of two. But a quarter note tied to an eighth note would end on the next downbeat, right?
Hmmm...this is somewhat confusing. If a half note were tied to a quarter note, would a trumpet player really stop on beat 3? I don't know anything about trumpet, but I would assume a half note tied to a quarter note is asking for 3 full quarter notes of sound. Is this incorrect in terms of the way that trumpet players interpret notation?
 
J

jay norem

Guest
If a half note were tied to a quarter note, would a trumpet player really stop on beat 3? I don't know anything about trumpet, but I would assume a half note tied to a quarter note is asking for 3 full quarter notes of sound. Is this incorrect in terms of the way that trumpet players interpret notation?
A trumpet player encountering a dotted half note will play that note for three beats, just as he would if it was written as a half note tied to a quarter note. Same thing.
Now, "a dotted half note tied to a quarter note" is just not done. Just use a whole note. You don't tie dotted notes, never. But you can dot a dotted note, of course. You don't see it much but it's perfectly "legal." You don't see double sharps or flats much either. These come up more in classical music scores.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Well...not exactly. Or maybe I should say "not always." In 3/2 time, a dotted half note would be a beat and a half. In many (if not most) 6/8 rhythms, a dotted quarter note would actually equal one beat. This is another example of why I like the idea that a dot simply makes a note be equal to 3 of the next smaller note value instead of 2. It's simple, it's always true, and it's rooted in the historical origins of music notation.
I was assuming we were in 4/4 time; but that was not a good assumption to make. I was being somewhat phisecious.

I think it is different in 3/2 and 6/8 like you have stated and this could very well go back to medieval notation, and the idea of the three being the perfect and the two being imperfect. In 3/8 time, a dotted eighth note roll that starts on one, ends on three. But in 3/4 time, a dotted half note roll ends on the upbeat of three. In 6/8, it would be similiar to 3/8 with the rolls ending on the downbeats.


[/QUOTE]Hmmm...this is somewhat confusing. If a half note were tied to a quarter note, would a trumpet player really stop on beat 3? I don't know anything about trumpet, but I would assume a half note tied to a quarter note is asking for 3 full quarter notes of sound. Is this incorrect in terms of the way that trumpet players interpret notation? [/QUOTE]

I am not sure; but I will ask. The question is really, "Isn't this somethng we should know for sure?" :)

I think you would be surprised at how many K-12 teachers are not clear about some basic concepts, like "Iis mp louder or softer than p?" Never mind, "Is this roll a seven or a nine?"
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Now, "a dotted half note tied to a quarter note" is just not done. Just use a whole note. You don't tie dotted notes, never. But you can dot a dotted note, of course. You don't see it much but it's perfectly "legal." You don't see double sharps or flats much either. These come up more in classical music scores.
It's done a 3/4 time. And I have seen it in snare drum music.
 

Dawson49

Member
We had a thread about this topic several months ago, and it turned into a rather heated debate.

Here is the way that I think of dots:

***A "normal" note divides into 2 of the next smaller note value. A dotted note divides into 3 of the next smaller note value. So...for example...a "normal" quarter note divides into 2 eighth notes. A dotted quarter note divides into 3 eighth notes.***

To me, this way of thinking is SO much easier than "A dot adds half the value" or "A dot increases the value by 50%" or any of the other ways that the concept is sometimes worded. These various ways of wording it are mathematically correct, but they are much more difficult for many people to understand and remember.
SO much easier? Different strokes ...

Unfortunately, at this level, we're dealing in semantics, Matt.

As many of you probably know, "perfect" refers to things that are grouped or divided into 3's, while "imperfect" refers to things that are grouped or divided into 2's.
This historical reference is rooted in time signatures (not notation, per se), at a time where the waltz and many other musics were written in 3/4, 3/1, etc. (triple meter), thus the use of the word "perfect".
 
J

jay norem

Guest
It's done a 3/4 time. And I have seen it in snare drum music.
In 3/4 time, yeah I can see a dotted half note tied to a quarter in the next measure, but it's just not done in the same measure. That would call for different notation. In one measure the dot is the end of the note, or dots as the case may be.
As for seeing a dotted note tied to another note in snare drum music, I can't comment on that, but I don't see why it would need to be done that way. I'm not saying you're not right, I just don't see why it would need to be written like that in one measure of music.
Why, for example, tie a dotted half note to an eighth note, when it could be written as a half note tied to a dotted quarter note? Makes no sense.
 

Dawson49

Member
MattRitter said:
... I like the idea that a dot simply makes a note be equal to 3 of the next smaller note value instead of 2. It's simple, it's always true, and it's rooted in the historical origins of music notation.
I can get with this simple, straightforward concept!
 
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MattRitter

Senior Member
SO much easier? Different strokes ...

Unfortunately, at this level, we're dealing in semantics, Matt.
Semantics are pretty important, Dawson. The wording that a teacher uses when explaining something can make all the difference. Believe me- when I tell a student that a dot makes a note be equal to 3 instead of 2 of the next smaller note value, they almost never get confused, and they almost never forget it. On the other hand, nearly every student who has ever come to me from a previous teacher was completely baffled about dotted notes. That is not an exaggeration. They generally say something like "doesn't a dot add a half note to the original note?" I wish I were kidding! After teaching over 300 individual private students and many thousands of private lessons, I have concluded from my experience that the wording I outlined is almost always easier for students to understand and remember. If your own experience has shown you something different, then please feel free to not make use of my suggestion.

This historical reference is rooted in time signatures (not notation, per se), at a time where the waltz and many other musics were written in 3/4, 3/1, etc. (triple meter), thus the use of the word "perfect".
In the article excerpt that I posted earlier, you will clearly see that the words "perfect" and "imperfected" are used in reference to rhythmic notation. Feel free to avoid these words in reference to rhythm if you like. In any case, the real point of the excerpt and the real point of my post was about the historical origins of dotted notes.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
In 3/4 time, yeah I can see a dotted half note tied to a quarter in the next measure, but it's just not done in the same measure. That would call for different notation. In one measure the dot is the end of the note, or dots as the case may be.
As for seeing a dotted note tied to another note in snare drum music, I can't comment on that, but I don't see why it would need to be done that way. I'm not saying you're not right, I just don't see why it would need to be written like that in one measure of music.
Why, for example, tie a dotted half note to an eighth note, when it could be written as a half note tied to a dotted quarter note? Makes no sense.
Your probably right that you would never see a dotted half tied to a quarter note. I can't find one right off. You would see a dotted half note tied to an eighth note to distinguish a roll that ends on the downbeat of four, as opposed to a whole note roll that would end on the upbeat of four.
 
J

jay norem

Guest
Hoo boy, you guys are really making this a lot more complicated than it actually is.

Your probably right that you would never see a dotted half tied to a quarter note. I can't find one right off. You would see a dotted half note tied to an eighth note to distinguish a roll that ends on the downbeat of four, as opposed to a whole note roll that would end on the upbeat of four.
But a dotted half note tied to an eighth note is properly written as a half note tied to a dotted quarter note. It's the same thing, just written the right way. You just don't tie dotted notes, you don't need to.
You could, of course, write it as a half note with two dots. Same thing.
 
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