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What On Earth Is A Crotchet?

Aug 8, 2008
A "crotchet" is a musical note that can be seen in sheet music for all musical instruments. It can be found in all music from beginners to advanced. Although it's probably more used in beginners music for reasons of simplicity.

The crotchet looks like a black coloured oval shape with a short stem. Depending on where on the staff it is written, determines whether the stem point upwards or downwards. There are no strict rules about this but normally, if the note is written below the middle line of the staff the stem points upwards and is written on the right side of the crotchet. Above the middle line the stem points downwards and on the left side of the crotchet.

There is a lot of confusion with the crotchets value in terms of timing because it's also referred to as a quarter note but is worth one beat. To better understand why a quarter note is worth one beat you have to understand that the term quarter note is in reference to the whole note called a semibreve, which is worth four beats.

All musical notes are referenced from the semibreve. So, if the semibreve is the whole, all other notes can be described as a part of the whole, and knowing that four quarters equals the whole or whole note in this case and the whole equals four, then a quarter of four equals one and so a quarter note or crotchet equals one beat.

Also related to the crotchet is the crotchet rest or quarter rest. This is a musical silence worth one beat. In addition, the dotted crotchet or dotted quarter note which to confuse things even more, is worth one and a half beats. It's useful to know that a dot written on the right side of any musical note, increases that's notes value by half as much again.

Even though notes such as the crotchet, which we now know, can be referred to as a quarter note, it is useful to know the actual name of the note. The smallest note value in modern music is a sixty fourth note. That means this note will go sixty four times in to a semibreve. The classical name of this note is a "hemidemisemiquaver". Although there are shorter note values, they are very rarely if ever used in music today. The same can be said for the highest value note called the "breve"; this note is worth eight beats and again is hardly ever used in modern music
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