Basic Music Theory: How to Read, Write, and Understand Written Music

(Barré) #1

15: New Notes

Eighth Notes and Rests

Remember when I said all notes get their name because of their
relationship to the whole note? If you don’t remember, check out “The
Notes” on page 92 for a refresher.
Eighth notes are no different. You can tell by their name that they’re 1/8
as long as a whole note (which I’m sure you remember gets 4 beats).
What is one eighth of 4 beats? It’s one half of a beat.
An eighth note gets half of a beat in 4/4 time.
It might be easier to say that there are 8 eighth notes in one whole note.
Or that there are 4 eighth notes in one half note.
Or that there are 2 eighth notes in one quarter note.
Or that there are 2 eighth notes per beat.
“Okay, Okay, I get it,” you say. “Just show me the notes!” Well, before I
do, there’s something you should know about. They’re called flags, and
we’re not talking about the stars and stripes.
A flag is a doohickey which hangs from the end of the stem of an eighth
note, and it has two forms. The first type can be seen dangling from the
eighth notes on the left below. The second version on the right is used for
two or more eighth notes. When there are two or more eighth notes, the
flags are connected with a beam to make the notes easier to read.
When you add a flag or beam to a note, it cuts the note’s value in half.

Example 15.1 LEFT: Single eighth notes. RIGHT: Eighth notes grouped by twos and fours
with beams (flags connected).


beams beams
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