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  • Writer's pictureTom Glasson

Grade 1:14 - Ties & Dotted Notes

The previous lessons taught the basics of music including; notes, harmony, rhythm and chords. These lessons are important for most musicians and can help all of us improve our musical knowledge.

This lesson however, is specifically relevant to writing music as score. This is an important part of music theory, especially if you aim to take the exams. It is also important if you want to have a balanced knowledge of music. However, many musicians don't use score, so don't feel bad if you don't have any interest in this one.

On to the lesson...

Ties & Dotted Notes

Two notes can be tied together to create a longer note, there are a number of reasons you may want to do this, a good example is if a note needs to carry on past a bar line.

Tied Notes

To create a tie, draw the notes you need, and then join them together with this curved line above or beneath them. You would do this if you want the note to carry on and not be played twice. Tied notes are always the same pitch, if you were changing pitch, you’d need a new note anyway and wouldn’t need to tie.

Ties have the same value as all the tied notes added together, so a crochet (quarter note) tied to another crotchet (quarter note) has the same value as a minim (half note). You wouldn’t use a tie if you could use a longer note. It makes the music far more complicated to read, easier is always better.

Dotted note and Equivalent Tie

In the above example, the dotted note is the same length as the tie, but the dotted note should be used instead of a tie if possible.

The tie goes from the head of the first note, to the head of the next note, on the outside of the stave, on the other side to the stems. If the notes are at the top of the stave with the stems pointing down, the tie would go above the stave.

Check at the end of this lesson for a guide on drawing music on the score!

How to draw a tied note

Dotted Notes

A dot, placed after a note, makes the note longer by half its value.

So a dotted crochet (quarter note) equals a crotchet plus a quaver (8th note). Another way to look at it is that a dotted quarter note equals three 8th notes

Dotted note equivalent

A dotted minim (half note) is equal to a minim plus a crotchet (quarter note).

Dotted Note Equivalent

The value for the dot is different depending on the note which is dotted - the dot is worth half the value of the note being dotted.

The previous page shows that ties and dots can create the same outcome. There will be times when you would choose either option, so it’s important to learn both. For example, ties can carry across bar lines, you can never use a dotted note across the bar.

But, avoid using ties where possible. They are less clear and harder to read. If you can use a dot or a longer note, use them instead.

Below is a free guide to drawing music notes and score, this guide is a really good reference for you as you are learning. Feel free to download it and use it whenever you need!

Drawing Tips & Grouping Notes
Download PDF • 10.83MB

Next: Lesson 15 - Rests

A Free Gift for you...

Download the Grade 1 Music Theory Workbook - An Introduction to Music Theory for free. The workbook is a written course which teaches you the entire content of Grade 1 music theory from start to finish, it is the full written version of our video course. It contains activities, with answers, to test your knowledge and give you chance to practice what you are learning.

There are 19 sections, covering every topic as well as reference sheets and materials which will come in handy as you study.

Click here to check it out.

Introduction to Music Theory Workbook

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