Quarter note

A quarter note (American) or crotchet (British) is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note (or semibreve). Often people will say that a crotchet is one beat, however, this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music; a quarter note may or may not be the beat. Quarter notes are notated with a filled-in oval note head and a straight, flagless stem. The stem usually points upwards if it is below the middle line of the stave or downwards if it is on or above the middle line. However, the stem direction may differentiate more than one part. The head of the note also reverses its orientation in relation to the stem. (See image.)

In Unicode, the symbol is U+2669 ().

A quarter note with stem facing up, a quarter note with stem facing down, and a quarter rest

A related value is the quarter rest (or crotchet rest). It denotes a silence of the same duration as a quarter note. It typically appears as the symbol Crotchet rest alt plain-svg.svg and occasionally as the older symbol Crotchet rest plain-svg.svg.[1]

The note derives from the semiminima of mensural notation. The word crotchet comes from Old French crochet, meaning 'little hook', diminutive of croc, 'hook', because of the hook used on the note in black notation. However, because the hook appeared on the eighth note (or quaver) in the later white notation, the modern French term croche refers to an eighth note.[citation needed]

It is played for half the length of a minim and twice that of a quaver. It is one beat in a bar of 4/4. The term quarter note is a calque (loan translation) of the German term Viertelnote. The names of this note (and rest) in most languages are calqued from the same source:

Language note name rest name
Czech čtvrťová nota čtvrťová pauza
Dutch kwartnoot kwartrust
French noire soupir
German Viertelnote Viertelpause
Greek Tetarto (τέταρτο) Pausi tetartou (παύση τετάρτου)
Italian semiminima pausa di semiminima
Polish ćwierćnuta pauza ćwierćnutowa
Portuguese semínima pausa de semínima
Russian четвертная нота четвертная пауза
Spanish negra silencio de negra
Swedish fjärdedelsnot fjärdedelspaus
Finnish Neljäsosanuotti Neljäsosatauko
Turkish dörtlük nota dörtlük es
Chinese 四分音符 四分休止符

The French and Spanish names for the note (both meaning "black") derive from the fact that the semiminima was the longest note to be colored in mensural white notation, which is true as well of the modern form.

The Greek and Chinese names mean "quarter" (for the note) and "quarter's pause" (for the rest). In Greek, all music rests are called "pauses."

See also


  1. ^ Examples of the older symbol are found in English music up to the early 20th century, e.g. W. A. Mozart Requiem Mass, vocal score ed. W. T. Best, pub. London: Novello & Co. Ltd. 1879

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Quarter note — Quarter Quar ter (kw[aum]r t[ e]r), n. [F. quartier, L. quartarius a fourth part, fr. quartus the fourth. See {Quart}.] 1. One of four equal parts into which anything is divided, or is regarded as divided; a fourth part or portion; as, a quarter… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • quarter note — n AmE a musical note which continues for a quarter of the length of a ↑whole note British Equivalent: crotchet …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • quarter note — quarter ,note noun count AMERICAN a short musical note that is played for one quarter of the time of a WHOLE NOTE …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • quarter note — quarter notes N COUNT A quarter note is a musical note that has a time value equal to two eighth notes. [AM] (in BRIT, use crotchet) …   English dictionary

  • quarter note — n. Music a note having one fourth the duration of a whole note: see NOTE …   English World dictionary

  • quarter note — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms quarter note : singular quarter note plural quarter notes music American a crotchet …   English dictionary

  • quarter note — note which is worth one fourth of a whole note (Music) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • quarter note — noun a musical note having the time value of a quarter of a whole note • Syn: ↑crotchet • Hypernyms: ↑note, ↑musical note, ↑tone …   Useful english dictionary

  • quarter note — quar′ter note n. mad a musical note equal in time value to one quarter of a whole note • Etymology: 1755–65 …   From formal English to slang

  • quarter note — Synonyms and related words: accidental, breve, crotchet, demisemiquaver, dominant, dominant note, double whole note, eighth note, enharmonic, enharmonic note, flat, half note, hemidemisemiquaver, minim, musical note, natural, note, patent note,… …   Moby Thesaurus

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