Dotted Notes and Ties

Dotted Notes and Tied Notes

Grade 1

Dotted notes are used in music to increase the duration of a note or rest.

Dotted rests aren’t needed for grade 1, so we won’t cover them in this lesson, only dotted notes.

Dotted notes look like this:

Dotted Notes

The dot is place to the right of the notehead. If the notehead is on a line the dot is placed in the space directly above the line (as with the dotted G above), if the notehead is inbetween the lines the dot is placed in the space to the right of the notehead (as with the dotted F above).

Effects of Dots

Dots increase the value of a note by half.
This means a dotted crotchet would be equal to a crotchet and a quaver, (1 ½ a crotchets).

Here is a graphical visualisation of the different dotted note values which you may see at grade 1:

Dotted Note Sums

Dots In Practice

Listen to these few bars of a piece in 3/4 time. At the start of each bar it has a dotted crotchet followed by three quavers.
Notice how the three quavers are the same length as the dotted crotchet.

Chopin op. 69/2
Chopin Op. 69/2

Tied Notes

A tie is another way of increasing the length of a note.
If two consecutive notes of the same pitch are tied together, the length of the notes are added together and the note is only played once.

The tie can be used to hold notes across bar lines or create note lengths when are not otherwise possible, such as notes lasting 2 ¼ beats – produced by tieing a minim and a quaver together.

Here are some examples of ties, with a metronome in the background signifying each crotchet beat:

Tied notes within a bar
Tied notes within one bar
Tied notes across bars
Tied notes across bar line

Tied Notes in Practice

Here is a few of the opening bars of an excerpt that uses tied notes. We’ve only pictured the melody line for simiplicity sake, however you can hear the bass-line as well. The ties are circled for convenience. Don’t worry if you have difficulty following the image of the music. It is a complex piece of music, instead focus on listening to it. Understanding the excerpts is not essential at this moment, but they are instead included for those who wish to listen to them and gain a deeper understanding.

Chopin op. 69/2
Chopin Op. 69/2

As you can see, ties and dots are both useful tools, and they are both used extensively throughout music of all periods. You will consistently encounter them throughout your musical life.