How a note looks on paper will tell us how long that note is played for. As you can see below, all the notes have different duration values. It is a good idea to understand what each of these notes are called and how long they play for. This will help you understand how music is written. One of the main parts of playing the guitar is having good rhythm and understanding it well. For example, if you were to pick the thin "E" string on the guitar for the duration of a "Whole Note" it would be picked on the 1st beat and stopped at the end of the 4th.
In the midi/audio examples below, the counts are represented by the clicks, and notes represented by a guitar sound. Please note the quality of the sound of the guitar will depend on the quality of your sound card or keyboard module.
This is called a WHOLE NOTE it is equal to 4 BEATS.
This is called a HALF NOTE, it is equal to 2 BEATS.
This is called a QUARTER NOTE, it is equal to 1 BEAT.
This is called a EIGHTH NOTE, it is equal to HALF A BEAT or TWO EVENLY PLACED NOTES EVERY BEAT.
This is called a SIXTEENTH NOTE, it is equal to a QUARTER OF A BEAT or FOUR EVENLY PLACED NOTES EVERY BEAT.
This is called a THIRTY SECOND NOTE, it is equal to an EIGHTH OF A BEAT or EIGHT EVENLY PLACED NOTES EVERY BEAT.
The note names above are a modern way of describing notes values. Below are more traditional names for the same notes values. It makes more sense to describe timing and note values as basic mathematics (eg: Whole note, Half note and Quarter note, etc) rather than a strange name that is hard to pronounce (eg: Semibreve, Minim and Crotchet, etc).
Also on the table below you can see the equivalent rests values lengths. Rests are the complete opposite to note values. If a whole note is played for 4 beats, then a whole note rest is silent (no note played) for 4 beats.
Below you can see the comparison between all the notes.
- There are two half notes in one whole note
- There are four quarter notes in one whole note
- There are eight eighth notes in one whole note
- There are two quarter notes in one half note
- There are two eighth notes in one quarter note
The arrows show how long the note is played for.