We have already looked at symbols with durations of one, two and four beats, but what symbol can we use for a note having a duration of three beats?

There is no symbol for such duration, but we can create one by adding a dot or a tie.

Attaching a dot to the right side of the note will add half of its value to its total duration. For instance, if we add the dot to a half note (minim) - which normally lasts for two beats - we will then have a note lasting three beats instead of two (half of 2 is 1, and 2 + 1 = 3).  Let’s now see the value of the shapes we already know, after adding the dot:

Note Duration
6 beats (4 + 2)
3 beats (2 + 1)
1 beat and a half (1 + 1/2)

The tie allows us to achieve the same goal. Using a tie between two notes will add the value of the second note to the value of the first. For instance, if we tie a quarter note (crotchet) to a half note (minim), we will get a note lasting three beats (same as a dotted half note).

The following musical example illustrates the use of a dotted half note (minim) and a half note tied to a quarter note (crotchet). You will hear a percussive sound for each beat, and a flute playing the written notes. Note that the resulting rhythm on the first measure (using the tie) is the same as the rhythm found on the second bar (using the dotted note).

Translated by Dan Román, revised by Sue Talley.


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José Rodríguez Alvira.