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Musical Notes - What Is A Semiquaver?

Aug 27, 2008
A "semiquaver" can be found as a written musical note in sheet music. This musical note is used in all types of sheet music for all musical instruments.

The semiquaver looks like a black-coloured oval shape with a stem on the right or left side depending on where on the musical staff it is written. At the end of the stem, there are two tails. These tails can be written in various ways. They can be curly, and they can be straight and shorter, almost like a couple of ticks. If more than one semiquaver is written so they appear next to each other then instead of having tails they are joined together by a lines called beams.

When the semiquaver is written above the middle line on the staff, the stem is written on the left side and the tails are written on the right side of the stem always curving back to the black coloured oval. When written below the middle line, the stem is written on the right side and the tails will again be written on the right side.

The semiquaver is also known as a sixteenth note and its time value is a quarter of a beat. The semiquaver or sixteenth note like all other musical notes should be referenced to the semibreve, which is worth four beats. Using simple maths, we can check that we have the correct value of the semiquaver.

Divide the semibreve (four) by the sixteenth note (sixteen) to get the sixteenth note value (quarter). 4/16 = 1/4

As stated above, 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 worth. We have already explained sixteenth notes, using the above formula you can work out note values for eighth notes, quarter notes and half notes.

Also related to the semiquaver is the semiquaver rest or sixteenth rest. This is a musical silence worth a quarter of a beat.

Another relation to the semiquaver is the dotted semiquaver or dotted sixteenth note, which is worth three eighths 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 semiquaver, half of a quarter equals an eighth, add the eighth to the semiquavers value of a quarter to get three eighths of a beat.
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