Notice how the stems can face either up or down. This is following the stem rule. Any note on the third line or above has a stem facing down. Notes below the third line contain a stem facing up.
Parts of an Eighth Note
An eighth note is made up of a notehead, stem, and a single flag. When to or more are present, they are connected by a beam.
To Beam or Not to Beam
Many times you can find these notes as two eighth notes or even four eighth notes all barred (or beamed) together.
In fact, the eighth note rule is: If you have more than one single eighth note next to each other, they are generally barred together into groups of 2’s or 4’s.
Why bar the eighth notes together? It makes it a whole lot easier to read.
Today, we are just going to talk about 1 eighth note, all by its lonesome self.
How Much Are They Worth?
A single eighth note is worth only 1/2 a count. That means we need something before or after the note to represent the other 1/2 a count.
Most often, an eighth rest fills that need.
Sometimes, you can find a quarter note after the eighth note followed by another eighth note creating a rhythm called syncopation.
Other times, you might find a dotted quarter note before or after the eighth note.
We always need something else to add to the eighth note to fulfill the goal of 1 full count.
Full Counts in a Measure
Every measure in music must have a whole number representing the total number of counts. We never have a total of 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 counts in a measure.
Instead, an extra 1/2 count is added to make it 3 or 4 counts total, depending on the time signature.
As you can see, a single eighth note is worth only a 1/2 a count, contain only 1 flag, and have stems that can face either up or down. Remember that we always have to add another 1/2 count or more before or after the note in order to create a whole number representing the total number of counts in a measure.
That is really all you need to know right now. We will discuss specific rhythms later containing single eighth notes including how to count them.