A Note by Any Other Name…

Music ExampleIt is amazing how much musical information can be conveyed by a single written note. For example, when teaching notes to small children, I like to refer to the fact that most of us have at least 3 names–our first name, our middle name, and our last name. Many of us also have nick-names. Some of us may have pet names that our parents use when they are talking to us or about us. But, all of these names refer to us.

In the above music example, the circled note can have many different names, depending on what aspect of music we are talking about:

  1. Eighth note – the type of note
  2. A – the pitch of the note
  3. A4 – the octave of the note
  4. A440 – the frequency of the note
  5. 3 – the number of the note in a major scale, based on the key signature
  6. “mi” – the singing syllable used when sight-singing
  7. “ti” – the rhythm syllable used when reading rhythms
  8. Half-beat note – referring to the amount of “time” given to the note, based on the time signature: 3/4
  9. Soprano note – referring to which group might sing the note in a choir

So, we can see that a single written note can communicate quite a bit of information to those who know how to read it.

About Curtis Hollembeak

Psalm 118:14, "The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation." Curtis currently lives in Rockford, IL with his wife and three children. Curtis works as church and school music director at the Berean Baptist Church. He has been a music educator and director for over 15 years.
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