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Rhythmic Dictation | The Dot

The dot is a symbol in music which when placed next to a note or rest increases the rhythmic duration of that note by half of its original value.

For example, a half note on any staff position sounds for two full beats, and a half rest requires two beats of silence.


When a dot is placed next to a half note the duration of that note increases from two beats to three beats.


If a half note sounds for two beats and a dot adds half of that note's original value,


because half of two equals one


and two plus one equals three,


the duration of a dotted half note is therefore three beats.


Likewise, a dot placed next to a whole note would increase its rhythmic duration from four beats to six beats.

We know that a whole note sounds for 4 equal beats.


Knowing that half of four equals two,


and four plus two equals six,


a dotted whole note would then sound for six beats.


For this reason a dotted whole note may not be used in a measure with a 4/4 time signature.


The time signature would have to allow for the equivalent of six equal beats in each measure in order to hold a dotted whole note.


Seeing how a quarter note placed on any staff position sounds for one full beat, when a dot is placed next to a quarter note its duration extends from one beat to one and a half beats. Let's put this into perspective.


Knowing that each quarter note can be rhythmically subdivided into two equal eighth notes,


the duration of a dotted half note can essentially be looked at as being comparatively the same as the combination of one quarter note and one eighth note.

Therefore, when a dotted quarter note is placed on a downbeat it will pass through the next downbeat and extend until the following upbeat.


On the other hand, if a dotted quarter note was placed on an up beat it would then extend through the following down beat and up beat. The next note or rest will be played on the following down beat.


Because an eighth note can be subdivided into two equal sixteenth notes,


when a dot is placed next to an eighth note it extends the rhythmic duration of that note to the equivalent of three equal sixteen notes.


This means that a dotted eighth note played directly on the down beat will be counted by saying, "One - EE - And". The remainder of the beat is then filled with a single sixteenth note or sixteenth rest.

It is also possible to have a dotted eighth note placed on the second sixteenth note subdivision of the down beat. In this situation the dotted eighth note would sustain through the "EE - And - AH" part of the beat.

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