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# Lesson 1: Note values, duration, and time signatures

Definitions and basic concepts. Created by All Star Orchestra.

## Want to join the conversation?

• I've always wanted to know exactly how the duration of the note is measured. How do people measure speed and know how fast or slow to go?
I'm starting off playing the violin and it's sometimes very hard to keep the tempo. Counting seconds is hard while focusing on other things.
• It will get easier as you play more. You'll get a feel for the tempos of pieces you play. One thing that would help you, I think, is a metronome. You can put in the tempo marking and it will count the beats for you. I've been playing violin and singing most of my life and it's definitely something that gets easier the more you do it (as with most things).
• in , how much does a whole note count for? i get confused with all of this...
• Whole Note = 2 Half notes/4 Quarter notes
Similar to this: 100= 50+50/ 25+25+25+25
• So, what is the bottom number in a time signature? I don't understand.
• Hi Clark,

The bottom number in a time signature represents the beat unit, or what is considered to be a beat within a measure while the top determines how many beats are in one bar. The bottom number will always be a power of two: 1 represents a whole-note, 2 represents a half-note, 4 represents a quarter-note, 8 represents an eighth-note and so on. Thus a time signature of 3/4 means that there are three quarter notes in a measure and a time signature of 12/16 means there are twelve sixteenth-notes in a measure.

I hope this helps,

Virtuoso
• Doing lots of it! Sightread whatever you can lay your hands on. Don't worry about getting it perfect, just sightread through the whole thing. Sometimes, when I practice the piano, I just open a hymnal to a random page and sightread whatever song I open to. Flashcards can also help if you're unfamiliar with the position of notes on the staff. Learn to recognize intervals quickly, as well as blocked and broken chords. Hope this helps!
• I want to take a music quiz, I have seen them in math but I can only find music vidios can someone direct me as to where to find that?
• www.musictheory.net is a great website for becoming more fluent in reading music. If you want to truly understand the theory though, I would suggest music lessons to you if you don't have them already. Piano arguably is the best instrument to get a good grasp of these concepts.
• Is a whole note like this: 1...2...3...4?
• Yep, a whole note counts four beats, unless your time signature is different. But usually, we count it as 4 beats per measure.
• why does 2 16th notes equal an 8th note?
• Its basically math. 2 16th notes have the same amount of counts as an eighth note does.
• It will get easier as you play more. You'll get a feel for the tempos of pieces you play. One thing that would help you, I think, is a metronome. You can put in the tempo marking and it will count the beats for you. I've been playing violin and singing most of my life and it's definitely something that gets easier the more you do it (as with most things).
• I don't get what the notes mean? whats the diffenets between a whole note and a eighth note, besides the way it looks?