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Musical Notes - What Is A Quaver?

Aug 26, 2008
A "quaver" is a written musical note found in sheet music. This musical note is used by all musicians and for all musical instruments.

The quaver is written as a black-coloured oval shape with a stem on the right or left side depending on where on the staff it is written. At the end of the stem, there is a tail. This tail can be written in various ways. It can be curly, making its way back to the oval shape or it can be straight and shorter, almost like a tick. If more than one quaver is written so they appear next to each other then instead of having tails they will be joined together by a line called a beam.

When the quaver is written above the middle line on the staff, the stem will be written on the left side and the tail will be written on the right side of the stem always making its way back to the black coloured oval. When written below the middle line on the staff the stem will be on the right side and the tail will again be written on the right side.

The quaver is also known as an eighth note and its musical time value is half a beat. This is because the quaver or eighth note should be referenced to the semibreve, which is worth four beats. Using simple mathematics, we can work out the value of the quaver. Use this formula:

Divide the semibreve (four) by the eighth note (eight) to get the eighth note value (half)

All musical notes use the semibreve as a reference note. A semibreve is also known as a whole note. Using simple fractions you can work out what different types of notes are called. We have already explained eighth notes, using the above formula you can work out note values for quarter notes and half notes.

Also related to the quaver is the quaver rest or eighth rest. This is a musical silence worth half a beat.

Another relation to the quaver is the dotted quaver or dotted eighth note, which is worth three quarters of a beat. A dot written on the right side of any musical note increases that notes value by half as much again. So for the quaver, half of half equals a quarter, add the quarter to the quavers value of a half to get three quarters of a beat.
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