Note Values

Whole Note

The whole note lasts for the whole measure when in standard time. In other words, the whole note gets 4 beats in 4/4 time. Most other notes divide the whole note. For example, half notes are played for one half the duration of the whole not.

This is what the whole note looks like:

A Whole Note equals 4 beats:

Half Note

A half note is a note played for twice the duration of a quarter note. In time signatures with a denominator of 4, such as 4/4 or 3/4 time, the half note is two beats long.

It looks like this:

Half Notes equal 2 beats:

Quarter Note

A quarter note is a note that represents the duration of one beat. In other words, it gets one beat.

It looks like this: 

You remember that I told you that a song in standard (4/4) time gets 4 beats per measure, right? That would mean that the song it would get 4 quarter notes per measure because a quarter note gets one beat. That’s why it’s called a quarter note. There are 4 quarters in a whole. For example, a dollar bill can be divided up into 4 quarters. (.25 + .25 + .25 + .25 = $1.00)

Quarter Notes equal one beat:

Eight Notes equal half a beat:

Sixteenth Notes equal 1/4th a beat: