Friday, March 25, 2011

Dotted Notes and the Tie

In this lesson, we will be going through dotted notes and the tie. On some sheet music, you may have noticed a dot placed next to a note or a rest such as a dot next to a whole note, a half note, and/or a quarter note. This dot tells us that the note or rest is increased in the number of beats by one HALF of its original value. I am sure you're a bit confused by what this means. I will explain a bit further.

Let's have a look at the dotted quarter note (see image below). The quarter note is worth 1 beat. If you have a dot next to the quarter note, this dotted quarter note is worth 1 and 1/2 beats (1 plus 1/2 beat). To get the 1/2 beat, you halve the quarter note beat value (the half of 1 is 1/2) and add this 1/2 to the original quarter note beat value of 1. Does that make sense to you?

I'll give you another example. Let's look at the dotted half note (see image below). The dotted half note is worth 3 beats. Do you know how this beat length came about? Well, a half note without the dot next to it is worth 2 beats. You halve this beat length to get 1 then add this 1 to the original beat value of the half note resulting in a total value of 3 beats.

This rule applies to the other dotted notes and rests. Below is an image of the different dotted notes and rests that can be seen in sheet music and their beat length.

Another way to lengthen a note is to use a small curved line called a tie. The tie indicates that two or more notes that are joined together are to be played as one note. This means that the beat length of both notes are added together. 

One thing you must remember is that to be a tie, the notes must be on the same line or the same space; that is they have to have the same pitch. An image of what the tie looks like is shown below.

To play a tie, let's look at the example (image) below.

We can see that at the start of the staff is a treble clef. This means that you read the notes according to the treble staff of E, G, B, D, F for the lines from the bottom line to the top line. Now we need to find out what note to play and for how long. We can see that the notes are placed on the middle line of the treble staff. This means that this note represents B.

Another thing we can see about this note is that the B key is to the right of the middle C key on your piano. It is actually the first B key to the right of middle C. How do we know this? Remember from your previous lessons that as you go up the treble staff from the bottom line to the top line, the more right of middle C you go on the piano.

Now knowing this, can you find this key on your piano? I hope so. If you have problems finding it, please let me know so I can help you locate it. If you can find it, place one of your fingers of your right hand on this B key.

Now look at the note on the treble staff. We can see that the first note is a whole note and we know that whole notes are worth 4 beats while the 2nd note is a quarter note worth 1 beat. We can also see a curved line connecting the whole note with the quarter note. This curved line, as we just learned above, is a tie. The reason it's a tie is that both notes are on the same line indicating that it has the same pitch.

Now play the B key and instead of holding this key down for 4 beats, you hold it down for 5 beats. You are probably wondering how we got 5 beats, right? Well, by adding the beat length of the first note with the beat length of the 2nd note. In the above image, we have a whole note worth 4 beats and a quarter note worth 1 beat, right? To get 5 beats, we add the beat length of the whole note to the beat length of the quarter note. This is how you play a tie on your piano. Quite easy isn't it?

I'll give you another example, look at the image below. How many beats do you play the notes shown below for? The same basic rule applies as above. You add the beat length of both quarter notes (1 beat plus 1 beat) together to get 2 beats. This means that you play the first note and hold it down for 2 beats instead of 1 beats. I hope you understood that. 

Now let's try an even more difficult piece. Below is a short piece of music with several ties and dotted notes. Can you figure out how long to play the tied notes for and how long to play the dotted notes for? I hope so. Please try to play the piece on the piano, it will be good practice for you. Remember to keep all your fingers except your thumb curved when playing the piano.

There is also a quiz (shown below) that you can attempt after you have gone through this lesson. If you have any problems with answering the questions or playing the music piece, please let me know and I will help you as best I can. Good luck!


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