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Lesson 1: Note values, duration, and time signatures

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- [Instructor] A note represents the pitch and duration of a musical sound. Let's begin with duration or note value. Here are five note values. A whole note, which is a circle, a half note, which is a circle with a stem, so two half notes equal one whole note. A quarter note is like a half note, but it's filled in. Two of these equal a half note. Four of these equal a whole note. An eighth note is like a quarter note, plus a flag. Two of these equal a quarter note. Four equal a half note, and eight equal a whole note. A sixteenth note is like an eighth note, but with an extra flag. The pattern is the same, two sixteenths equal one eighth, four sixteenths equal one quarter, and so on. These flags can also be connected and the stems can go up or down without any change to the duration or length. Now let's look at how these notes specifically apply to music. We first begin with a time signature. The one that I'm choosing is 4/4. The top number indicates how many regular pulses or beats are in each measure or bar. The lower number tells us what kind of note is equal to one beat. Therefore, if we write four quarter notes in 4/4, the bar is over, and we add a bar line. If we do the same thing a second time, we have created two bars or two measures. The word measure and bar are used interchangeably. Let's use our five note values in 4/4. The whole note gets four beats. If we find a whole note in music with a time signature of four-four, we would play or sing a single note and it would last the whole bar. A half note would get half of the whole, or two beats. Let's listen to the beginning of Dvorak's New World Symphony's slow Movement. This brass choral has three measures, or three bars of half notes, and then one measure of a whole note. ("New World Symphony" by Dvorak)