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(US) AP Music Theory
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Rhythmic ValuesRhythm is one of the most important parts of modern music notation and is a fundamental part of music theory.
Rhythmic lengths are usually represented by differences in the head or tail of a note.
The longest rhythmic value used today is the Breve (Double whole note).
The term 'Breve' actually comes from the Latin word 'Brevis', meaning short.
Until the 15th century it was one of the shortest rhythmic values, but the printing of music caused changes in music notation.
The breve can be notated in different ways, the most modern of which is shown first.
The other two may be encountered in old scores.
A breve/double whole-note can be split in to two parts of equal lengths, called Semibreves/Whole notes
Semibreves/Whole notes can be spilt in to two smaller values of equal length.
These are known as Minims/Half Notes. Their notation is:
The rhythmic values can be further split in to two smaller values of equal length:
A Minim/Half Note can be split in to two Crotchets/Quarter Notes.
A Crotchet/Quarter Note can be split in to two Quavers/Eighth Notes.
Crotchet/Quarter Note can be split in to two Semiquavers/Sixteenth Notes.
A hierarchy of rhythmic durations with relation to each other has been established:
The semiquaver can be split further in half:
A Semiquaver/Sixteenth Notecan be split in to two Demisemiquavers/Thirty-Second Notes.
Shorter rhythmic values than the Demisemiquaver/Thirty-second Noteare rarely used, but they may be encountered in more advanced theory work.
Prefixes are added in the order of semi-, demi- and then hemi. eg. hemidemisemiquaver, then semihemidemisemiquaver.
The durations countinue to halve in size: Sixty-fourth Note, One-hundred-and-twenty-eighth note...
Here are the Italian, French and German names for the rhythmic durations:
(f. for feminine, m. for masculine, n. for neuter)
|English (UK)||English (US)||Italian||French||German|
|Breve||Double Whole Note||Breve (f.)||
or carrée (f.)
|Semibreve||Whole Note||Semibreve (f.) or Intero (m.)||Ronde (f.)||
Ganze Taktnote (m),
abr. 'Ganze' (f.)
Minima (f.) or Metá (f.)
or Bianca (f.)
Halbe Taktnote (m.),
abr. 'Halbe' (f.)
Semiminima (f.) or Nera (f.)
or Quarto (m.)
|Noire (f.)||Viertel (f.)|
|Quaver||Eighth Note||Croma (f.) or Ottavo (m.)||Croche (f.)||Achtel (f.)|
|Semiquaver||Sixteenth Note||Semicroma (f.) or sedicesimo (m.)||Double croche (f.)||Sechzehntel (f.)|
|Demisemiquaver||Thirty-Second Note||Biscroma (f.) or Trentaduesimo (m.)||Triple Croche (f.)||Zweiunddreißigstel (f.)|