As you may have noticed, there are a lot of dotted notes in music. What is their value? How long do you hold them for? How do you figure them out? There are probably a million questions like this running in your head every time you see one.
Right now, it may look very complicated to you. But, with a little math and some extra thinking, we are going to discover how you can problem solve any note with one dot next to them.
It is true that you can find double dotted notes and even triple dotted notes in music. That is a discussion for another time. Today, we are focusing on understanding the meaning behind one dot first.
To help us get started, we first need to talk about the dot rule.
The dot rule states this: A dot adds half the value of the note to the note.
To problem solve a dotted note, here are 3 steps to follow:
- Figure out the value of the note the dot is attached to.
- Decide what half the value of the note is. This amount represents the dot.
- Add the value of the dot to the value of the note.
Step 1: How many counts are half notes again? Yes, they are worth 2 counts. Good, that was the first thing that we needed to establish.
Step 2: The next thing we need to do is find out what half the value of a half note is. What do you think? When you slice a half note in half (divide it by 2), half the value of a half note is equal to 1. That 1 represents the value of the dot. It might be helpful to remember that two quarter notes equal one half note.
Step 3: Now, we are going to add 1 (value of the dot) to the half note (value of 2 counts).
Final Result: A dotted half note is equal to 3 counts.
That was easy enough wasn’t it? Let’s practice this a little bit more on some other kinds of dotted notes.
Step 1: How many counts are whole notes? Yes, they are 4 counts total.
Step 2: Divide the whole note in half. What do you get? The answer should be 2 counts (4 divided by 2 = 2). This means the value of the dot equals 2. If you remember, 2 half notes equal one whole note.
Step 3: Add the whole note to the dot. (4 + 2 = 6)
Final Result: A dotted whole note equals 6 counts.
Let’s do one more. How about a dotted quarter note?
Step 1: How many counts is a quarter note? Quarter notes are worth 1 count total.
Step 2: If we divide the quarter by 2 (or slice it in half), what do you get? Yes, you get 1/2. (1 divided by 2 = 1/2) Keep in mind that 1 quarter note equals 2 eighth notes. One half of a quarter note is equal to just one single eighth note. The dot, therefore, equals 1/2.
Step 3: Add the quarter note value to the dot value. (1 + 1/2 = 1 1/2).
Final Result: The total value of a dotted quarter note equals 1 1/2. That may seem odd, but we will learn more about dotted quarter notes later to understand where the other 1/2 count will come from to complete the rhythm.
Q & A
Q: Does the dot rule apply to rests also?
A: Yes it does. The only difference between a rest and a note is one represents sound (note) while the other represents silence (rest). Apply the same 3 steps above and you will get the correct result.
Dotted notes in music really don’t have to be a stumbling block. Using these 3 easy steps will help you problem solve them every time. With enough practice using some simple math, you will become an expert at solving any note with one dot attached to it.