In Introduction to Rhythm, you learned the basics of notes/rests and time signature.

Here we will go more into detail about different types of notes and rests.

Flagged Notes

So far, you’ve learned the whole note, half note, and quarter note. In 4/4 time, the whole note gets 4 beats (one whole measure), and the half and quarter notes get 2 and 1 beat respectively. Now we will introduce a few more types of notes and their corresponding rests that follow the same pattern, but first we will introduce a musical tool called a ‘tie.’ A tie is a line that connects 2 notes together to make one note that lasts the duration of the two. For example, two half notes tied together would be equivalent to one whole note, which is the same a 4 quarter notes tied together.


Now we move on to the other notes. Here we will introduce 8th notes, 16th notes, and 32nd notes, by comparing them to each other and to quarter notes

Here are the notes and their corresponding rests:

Like you might have figured out already, an eight note has half the value of a quarter note, twice the value of a 16th note, and 4 times the value of a 32nd note. Also, there are also 64th and 128th notes, which follow the same system. Just add another flag to the stem for each consecutive division, so a 128th note would have 5 flags. I suppose, theoretically, there could be even such thing as a 512th note, too, which would have 7 stems…but lets not get carried away!


Here is an example rhythm in 4/4 times using these flagged notes:

Yeah…confusing, huh? With flagged notes, it’s very easy to lose track of where your strong beats are. To make it easier, flagged notes can be beamed. Here is the same rhythm with beams:

Ahhhhh, that’s better! As you can see, the notes are now split into groups. 4/4 time has 4 beats, and so there are four groups of notes. The first note of each group is on the beat. Here is an audio clip of this rhythm being played on a single note. The on-the-beat notes are accented.

Click to Listen

Dotted Notes

Now we can introduce dotted notes. A dot after a note means that you add half the value of the note to itself. For example, if you are in 4/4 and a quarter note gets 1 beat, a dotted quarter note would get 1.5 (one-and-a-half) beats, so a dotted quarter note = a quarter note + an 8th note. And since two eighth notes = a quarter note, a dotted quarter note gets the value of three eight notes. Like so:

= =

The same applies to all notes. A dotted half note = 3 quarter notes. A dotted eight note = three 16th notes. A dotted 32nd note = three 64th notes.

To break it down further, we now get kind of complicated, try to follow along, though! 😀

If   =, and = ,

then ==

If you are a bit confused, don’t worry, it will click later as you practice tapping out rhythms from the Practice Rhythm section.


Here’s a breakdown of most of the notes and rests we have covered. Also shown is how many beats each note gets in 4/4 time.


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