Short, to-the-point, and easy-to-understand classical music composer biography on Claude Debussy provided by Five Minute Mozart.

Sixteenth Notes

Run time: 6m 07s  |  Release Date: October 3rd, 2014

Let’s now take a look at an even further subdivision of the quarter note called a sixteenth note.

Just like a whole note can be divided into two equal half notes, a half note into two equal quarter notes, and a quarter note into two equal eighth notes, an eighth note can be divided into two equal sixteenth notes. Now if it takes two equal eighth notes to fill the same amount of time as one quarter note, and two sixteenth notes equals one eighth note, then we should know that it will take four equal sixteenth notes to fill one quarter note, or beat.

There are four beats in a measure with a 4/4 time signature and each beat can be divided into four equal sixteenth notes. That means that in one measure there can be up to 16 equal sixteenth notes.

We already know that in order to count eighth notes the first eighth note, or the down beat, is counted as the beat.

One - Two - Three - or Four

And the second eighth note, the up beat, is counted by saying the word “And”. Being that sixteenth notes are a subdivision of the eighth note, the way that you count the down beat and the up beat will remain the same. The remaining sixteenth notes will be counted by saying “EE” and “Ah”.

One - EE - And - Ah

Let’s listen to how it sounds when beats one through four are all divided into equal sixteenth notes.

One - EE - And - Ah, Two - EE - And - Ah, Three - EE - And - Ah, Four - EE - And - Ah

When counting rhythm in music it is very important to feel the pulse of four equal sixteenth notes in every single beat no matter what kind of note is in each beat. This is by far the easiest way to ensure that you stay within rhythm. In the following examples there will be a click track playing the pulse of each sixteenth note and a piano performing the notes as they are written. This will enable you to hear the notes as they match with each sixteenth note pulse. Pay attention to the words in the bottom of this video in order to see how each beat should be counted.

This here is a sixteenth rest. A sixteenth rest looks very familiar to an eighth rest except that, just like a sixteenth note, it has two flags instead of just one. Wherever a single sixteenth rest is present you will remain silent for one fourth of a beat.

Unfortunately it is not always so easy to count sixteenth notes. Frequently, certain sixteenth notes within a beat will be omitted. Let’s see what it would sound like if the very first sixteenth note within a given beat was actually a sixteenth rest. In this measure, beats one and four each contain a quarter note and beat two contains four equal sixteenth notes. Measure three is broken down into sixteenth notes as well with very first sixteenth note omitted and replaced with a sixteenth rest. When counting beat three start by saying “EE” on the subdivision of the down beat, or what would be the second sixteenth note within the beat, like this:

To get a better listen, let’s divide all four beats into equal sixteenth notes omitting the very first sixteenth note in each beat.

Let’s now see what it sounds like when we omit the second sixteenth note in any given beat. In this situation the down beat is played as an eighth note and the up beat is divided into two equal sixteenth notes omitting the “EE” of “One - EE - And - Ah”. Remember that an eighth note takes up the same amount of time as two sixteenth notes. Whenever certain sixteenth notes are omitted, an eighth note may be used to fill its space. All together is sounds like this:

Do you see how the eighth note on the down beat of each note enables you to play through what would be the second sixteenth note in each beat?

How about if we were to omit the third sixteenth note “And”. Omitting the third sixteenth note would mean that the third sixteenth note pulse will be played by an eighth note. Putting an eighth note in place the of second sixteenth note means that it would sustain through the “And” part of the beat.

Finally, what if we omitted the last sixteenth note in each beat, or “AH” of “One - EE - And - Ah”. Doing so would mean that the third sixteenth note in each beat, the up beat, would become an eighth note and sustain until the next down beat.

Before we wrap up, why don’t we take a few seconds and put together all the different combinations of eighth notes and sixteenth notes that we have learned in this video to see how they match up with each other.

Now that you have an understanding of what sixteenth notes are and have seen a couple of different combinations in the next video lesson I will begin to talk about dots and ties and sustaining notes even further. But before you move one, don’t forget to check out FiveMinuteMozart.com for free helpful practice sheets and more in-depth explanations of everything discussed in this video.

Watch Next:

9 - Intervals And Accidentals.png

Let’s start to talk about some really basic intervals. An interval is the distance from one note to another note either above or below the original note. Now, the two most basic and most important intervals to know about are a half step and a whole step.

Let’s start with a half step. A half step is the distance from one note to the very next note either directly above or below the original pitch. This is probably most easily understood by looking at the keyboard a piano. For those of you who are not familiar with the note on a piano, here they are.