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Section 4.2 Durational Symbols

In the present day, the most common time signature is \(\begin{smallmatrix}4\\4\end{smallmatrix}\) (also known as “common time”). It makes sense to introduce durational symbols in the context of \(\begin{smallmatrix}4\\4\end{smallmatrix}\) because a whole note takes up a whole measure in \(\begin{smallmatrix}4\\4\end{smallmatrix}\), a half note takes up half a measure of \(\begin{smallmatrix}4\\4\end{smallmatrix}\), a quarter note takes up \({1\over 4}\) of a measure, and so on.

An illustration of the above paragraph in musical symbols
Figure 4.2.1.

Here are durational symbols for rests.

Musical symbols for rests

To put this information into practice, listen to the durational values double in speed in each measure of the following example.

Each measure has values twice as fast as the previous, from quarter notes to 32nd notes

Two rare durational values are the double whole note (also called a “breve”) and the 64th note, which is twice as fast as a 32nd note.

musical symbols for double whole notes and 64th notes