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Article

Bar  

David Hiley

In Western notation a vertical line drawn through the staff to mark off metrical units. Hence also the metrical unit thus indicated, which in American usage is called ‘measure’. English usage often relies on context alone to make the distinction clear (e.g. ‘up to the double bar’, ‘the end of the bar’), but ‘bar-line’ is also common....

Article

Breve  

John Morehen and Richard Rastall

In Western notation a note half the value of a long and twice that of a semibreve. In American usage it is called a double whole note. It was the shorter of the two notes of early mensural music and theory, hence its name. It had its origins in the ...

Article

John Morehen and Richard Rastall

In Western notation the note that is half the value of a minim and twice that of a quaver. In American usage it is called a quarter-note. It is the equivalent of the old semiminim (Lat. semiminima), first found in 14th-century music. The semiminim took the form of a minim with a crook, or else a coloured minim (red in black notation, black in the more recent void notation). The crotchet is still in regular use, although in common with other notes it now has a round note head. Many 20th-century composers adopted the crotchet as a convenient value for the standard pulse, and it is found as the denominator in the most frequently used time signatures (3/4, 4/4 etc.). Its various forms and the crotchet rest are shown in ...

Article

John Morehen and Richard Rastall

In Western notation the note that is half the value of a semiquaver, hence its name, and twice that of a hemidemisemiquaver. In American usage it is called a 32nd-note. It is first found in early 16th-century sources of instrumental music, in the form of either a minim with four flags or a coloured (i.e. black) minim with three flags. The demisemiquaver is still in regular use, although in common with other notes it now has a round note head. Its various forms and the demisemiquaver rest are shown in ...

Article

American term for Quaver. See also Note values.

Article

Fermata  

David Fuller

The sign of the corona or point surmounted by a semicircle showing the end of a phrase or indicating the prolongation of a note or a rest beyond its usual value. ‘Fermata’ came into American usage during the 19th century; H.W. Pilkington, in A Musical Dictionary...

Article

Flat  

Richard Rastall

In Western notation the sign ♭, normally placed to the left of a note and indicating that that note is to be lowered in pitch by one semitone. Such a note is described in English usage as ‘flattened’ or in American usage as ‘flatted’. The adjective ‘flat’ is used to denote intonation below the notated pitch (though the phrase ‘flat six’ etc. is colloquially used to signify a note or chord of the flattened 6th by reference to the figuring ‘♭6’)....

Article

American term for Minim. See also Note values.

Article

John Morehen

In Western notation the note that is half the value of a demisemiquaver, hence its name. In American usage it is called a 64th-note. It is first found in late 17th-century music. Except for rare uses of a semihemidemisemiquaver (128th-note) it is the shortest note found in music. The hemidemisemiquaver and its rest are shown in ...

Article

Roger L. Hall

A notation system employing letters in place of conventional notes. It was first used in the ninth edition of the Bay Psalm Book (1698), based on English psalm notation. Four letters representing the solfège syllables fa, sol, la, and mi on ledger lines were employed by Rev. John Tufts in ...

Article

A term in American usage equivalent to ‘bar’ in English usage when referring to a metrical unit rather than ‘bar-line’. For ‘bar-line’ the American term is ‘bar’. See Bar .

Article

Minim  

John Morehen and Richard Rastall

In Western notation the note that is half the value of a semibreve and twice the value of a crotchet. In American usage it is called a half-note. It was the shortest of the five notes of early medieval music, hence its Latin name. It is first found in early 14th-century music. Before about ...

Article

American term for Crotchet. See also Note values.

Article

Quaver  

John Morehen and Richard Rastall

In Western notation the note that is half the value of a crotchet and twice that of a semiquaver. In American usage it is called an eighth-note. It is the equivalent of the old fusa first found in 15th-century music. The fusa took the form of a minim with two flags, or else of a coloured minim (red in black notation, black in the more recent void notation) with a flag. Some sources use the alternative term ...

Article

John Morehen and Richard Rastall

In Western notation the note that is half the value of a breve, hence its name, and twice that of a minim. In American usage it is called a whole note. It is first found in late 13th-century music. Before about 1600 its value was a half or a third of a breve, and it was usually shown as in ...

Article

John Morehen and Richard Rastall

In Western notation the note that is half the value of a quaver, hence its name, and twice that of a demisemiquaver. In American usage it is called a 16th-note. It is the equivalent of the old semifusa, first found in 15th-century music. The semifusa...

Article

Sharp  

In Western notation the sign ♯, normally placed to the left of a note and indicating that that note is to be raised in pitch by one semitone. Such a note is described in English usage as ‘sharpened’ and in American usage as ‘sharped’. The adjective ‘sharp’ is used to denote intonation above the notated pitch (though the phrase ‘sharp six’, and so on, is colloquially used to signify a note or chord of the sharpened 6th by reference to the figuring ‘♯6’). In some sources of the late 13th century to the mid-18th the diagonal ...

Article

American term for Hemidemisemiquaver. See also Note values.

Article

American term for Demisemiquaver. See also Note values.

Article

American term for Semibreve. See also Note values.