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Dotted note

Dotted note

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In Western musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

, a dotted note is a note
In music, the term note has two primary meanings:#A sign used in musical notation to represent the relative duration and pitch of a sound;#A pitched sound itself....

 with a small dot written after it. The dot increases the duration of the basic note by half of its original value. If the basic note lasts 2 beats
Beat (music)
The beat is the basic unit of time in music, the pulse of the mensural level . In popular use, the beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: tempo, meter, rhythm and groove...

, the corresponding dotted note lasts 3 beats. A dotted note is equivalent to writing the basic note tie
Tie (music)
In music notation, a tie is a curved line connecting the heads of two notes of the same pitch, indicating that they are to be played as a single note with a duration equal to the sum of the individual notes' note values...

d to a note of half the value, or with more than one dots, tied to notes of progressively halved value. Any number of dots may be added to a note; n dots serve to lengthen the note by of its original duration.


If the note to be dotted is on a space, the dot also goes on the space, while if the note is on a line, the dot goes on the space above (this also goes for notes on ledger lines). However, if a dotted note on a line is part of a chord
Chord (music)
A chord in music is any harmonic set of two–three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may for many practical and theoretical purposes be understood as chords...

 where a higher note is also on a line, the dot for the lower note is placed in the space below:  

The dots on dotted notes, which are located to the right of the note, are not to be confused with the dots which indicate staccato
Staccato is a form of musical articulation. In modern notation it signifies a note of shortened duration and separated from the note that may follow by silence...

Articulation (music)
In music, articulation refers to the musical direction performance technique which affects the transition or continuity on a single note or between multiple notes or sounds.- Types of articulations :...

, which are located above or below the note as shown in the 3rd and 4th notes of Example 2.

Theoretically, any note value can be dotted, as can rest
Rest (music)
A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music, marked by a sign indicating the length of the pause. Each rest symbol corresponds with a particular note value:The quarter rest may also be found as a form in older music....

s of any value. If the rest is in its normal position, dots are always placed in third staff space from the bottom,

The use of a dot for augmentation
Augmentation (music)
In Western music and music theory, the word augmentation has three distinct meanings. Augmentation is a compositional device where a melody, theme or motif is presented in longer note-values than were previously used...

 of a note dates back at least to the 10th century, although the exact amount of augmentation is disputed; see Neume
A neume is the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line staff notation. The word is a Middle English corruption of the ultimately Ancient Greek word for breath ....


Dots can be used across barlines
Bar (music)
In musical notation, a bar is a segment of time defined by a given number of beats of a given duration. Typically, a piece consists of several bars of the same length, and in modern musical notation the number of beats in each bar is specified at the beginning of the score by the top number of a...

, such as in H. C. Robbins Landon
H. C. Robbins Landon
Howard Chandler Robbins Landon was an American musicologist.He was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studied music at Swarthmore College and Boston University. He subsequently moved to Europe where he worked as a music critic. From 1947 he undertook research in Vienna on Joseph Haydn, a composer...

's edition of Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 70 in D major
Symphony No. 70 (Haydn)
The Symphony No. 70 in D major, Hoboken 1/70, was written by Joseph Haydn to mark the start of construction of a new opera house on the Eszterháza estate...

, but most writers today regard this usage as "obsolete" and recommend using a tie across the barline instead.

More than one dot may be added; each dot adds half of the duration added by the previous dot, as shown in example 1.

Double dotting

A double-dotted note is a note with two small dots written after it. Its duration is 1¾ times (1 + ½ + ¼ = 2 - ¼) its basic note value
Note value
In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the color or shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags/beams/hooks/tails....


The double-dotted note is used less frequently than the dotted note. Typically, as in the example below, it is followed by a note whose duration is one-quarter the length of the basic note value, completing the next higher note value.
Example 2 is a fragment of the second movement of Joseph Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

's string quartet
String quartet
A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four string players – usually two violin players, a violist and a cellist – or a piece written to be performed by such a group...

, Op.
Opus number
An Opus number , pl. opera and opuses, abbreviated, sing. Op. and pl. Opp. refers to a number generally assigned by composers to an individual composition or set of compositions on publication, to help identify their works...

 74, No. 2, a theme and variations
Variation (music)
In music, variation is a formal technique where material is repeated in an altered form. The changes may involve harmony, melody, counterpoint, rhythm, timbre, orchestration or any combination of these.-Variation form:...

. The first note is double-dotted. Haydn's theme was adapted for piano by an unknown composer; the adapted version can be heard (3.7 KB
The kilobyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. Although the prefix kilo- means 1000, the term kilobyte and symbol KB have historically been used to refer to either 1024 bytes or 1000 bytes, dependent upon context, in the fields of computer science and information...

Musical Instrument Digital Interface
MIDI is an industry-standard protocol, first defined in 1982 by Gordon Hall, that enables electronic musical instruments , computers and other electronic equipment to communicate and synchronize with each other...


In a French overture
French overture
The French overture is a musical form widely used in the Baroque period. Its basic formal division is into two parts, which are usually enclosed by double bars and repeat signs. They are complementary in styles , and the first ends with a half-cadence that requires an answering structure with a...

 (and sometimes other Baroque music
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

), notes written as dotted notes are often interpreted to mean double-dotted notes, and the following note is commensurately shortened; see Historically informed performance
Historically informed performance
Historically informed performance is an approach in the performance of music and theater. Within this approach, the performance adheres to state-of-the-art knowledge of the aesthetic criteria of the period in which the music or theatre work was conceived...


Triple dotting

A triple-dotted note is a note with three dots written after it; its duration is 1⅞ times (1 + ½ + ¼ + ⅛ = 2 - ⅛) its basic note value. Use of a triple-dotted note value is not common in the Baroque and Classical periods, but quite common in the music of Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

 and Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

, especially in their brass parts. See example 3.

An example of the use of double- and triple-dotted notes is the Prelude in G major for piano, Op. 28, No. 3, by Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

. The piece, in common time
Time signature
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat....

 (4/4), contains running semiquavers
Sixteenth note
thumb|right|Figure 1. A sixteenth note with stem facing up, a sixteenth note with stem facing down, and a sixteenth rest.thumb|right|Figure 2. Four sixteenth notes beamed together....

 in the left hand. Several times during the piece Chopin asks for the right hand to play a triple-dotted minim
Half note
In music, a half note or minim is a note played for half the duration of a whole note and twice the duration of a quarter note...

 (lasting 15 semiquavers) simultaneously with the first left-hand semiquaver, then one semiquaver simultaneously with the 16th left-hand semiquaver.

More than three dots are highly uncommon but theoretically possible.

See also

  • Dotted quarter note
  • Swung note
  • Notes inégales
    Notes inégales
    In music, notes inégales refers to a performance practice, mainly from the Baroque and Classical music eras, in which some notes with equal written time values are performed with unequal durations, usually as alternating long and short...

  • Tuplet
    In music a tuplet is "any rhythm that involves dividing the beat into a different number of equal subdivisions from that usually permitted by the...