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Music Lessons In Toronto: Dotted and Tied Rhythms

With rhythmic notation, it is important to note that there are certain tools available to us to modify the duration of a note. Two common ones are tied notes and dotted notes. There are many different reasons that musicians use tied notes and dotted notes while composing, transcribing or teaching music lessons in Toronto. In this post, we will examine what these things are, how they work and some examples of how and when to use them. To further your understanding of rhythms and music, contact Greater Toronto Music School to enroll in music lessons today!


Two music notes on a staff tied together
Two notes that are tied together

Tied Notes

Tied notes are created by connecting two or more notes of the same pitch with a curved line, which creates a single longer note. The value of the tied note is equal to the sum of the durations of the individual notes that are tied together. While reading music, it's important to note the difference between tied notes and slurs. Ties are always between the same notes while slurs are frequently starting and ending on different ones.


Here are some examples of tied note combinations and their values:

  1. Half note tied to a quarter note: This creates a three-beat note, as a half note is equal to two beats and a quarter note is equal to one beat. (*see image below)

  2. Quarter note tied to an eighth note tied to a sixteenth note: This creates a one-and-three-quarters beat note, as a quarter note is equal to one beat, an eighth note is equal to half a beat, and a sixteenth note is equal to a quarter of a beat.

  3. Dotted quarter note tied to a sixteenth note: This creates a one-and-a-half beat note, as the dotted quarter note is equal to one-and-a-half beats, and the sixteenth note is equal to a quarter of a beat.

  4. Dotted half note tied to a dotted quarter note: This creates a four-and-a-half beat note, as the dotted half note is equal to three beats, and the dotted quarter note is equal to one-and-a-half beats.

a quarter note tied to a half note, totalling 3 beats
Example 1 from above

Here are some examples of when tied notes are used:

  1. To extend the duration of a note: Tied notes are frequently used to extend the duration of a note beyond its normal length. By tying two or more notes of the same pitch together, the duration of the note is increased by the combined length of the individual notes.

  2. To create a smooth, legato sound: Tied notes can be used to create a smooth, legato sound by connecting two or more notes of the same pitch. This is often used in music with sustained melodic lines or lyrical passages.

  3. To emphasize a specific beat: Tied notes can be used to emphasize a specific beat in a measure, particularly when the tied notes fall on a weak beat. This can create a sense of rhythmic tension or anticipation.

  4. To simplify complex rhythms: In some cases, tied notes can be used to simplify complex rhythms by creating longer, simpler note values. This can make the music easier to read and play, especially for less experienced musicians.

  5. To notate a phrase or part that holds over a bar line

Overall, tied notes are a versatile tool for composers and arrangers, allowing them to create a wide range of musical effects and variations in rhythm and melody.


Dotted Rhythms


In music notation, a dotted rhythm is a rhythmic pattern that consists of a dotted note value and a shorter note value. The dot placed after a note increases its duration by half its original value, making it "dotted". For example, a dotted quarter note is equivalent to a quarter note tied to an eighth note. Dotted notes are used to create a variety of rhythmic patterns in music.

dotted music notes
Dotted notes

Here are some examples:

  1. Dotted Half Note: A dotted half note is equivalent to three quarter notes. It lasts for three beats in a 4/4 time signature.

  2. Dotted Quarter Note: A dotted quarter note is equivalent to a quarter note tied to an eighth note. It lasts for one and a half beats in a 4/4 time signature. (*See image below)

  3. Dotted Eighth Note: A dotted eighth note is equivalent to an eighth note tied to a sixteenth note. It lasts for three-quarters of a beat in a 4/4 time signature.

  4. Dotted Sixteenth Note: A dotted sixteenth note is equivalent to a sixteenth note tied to a thirty-second note. It lasts for three-eighths of a beat in a 4/4 time signature.


a dotted quarter note and explanation of how it works
Example 2 from above

Dotted notes are a common feature in music and are used by composers and arrangers for a variety of reasons.


Here are some examples:

  1. Syncopation: Dotted rhythms are often used to create syncopated rhythms, where the emphasis is placed on the weak beats of a measure instead of the strong beats. This can create a sense of rhythmic tension or surprise and is commonly used in jazz, funk, and other popular music genres.

  2. Anticipation: Dotted rhythms can be used to create a sense of anticipation or build-up in a musical phrase. By adding a dotted rhythm before a downbeat, the listener is primed for the arrival of the main beat, creating a sense of tension and release.

  3. Variations in melody: Dotted rhythms can be used to add variety and interest to a melody by creating different rhythmic patterns. By combining dotted rhythms with other note values, composers can create complex and varied melodies that keep the listener engaged.

  4. Ornamentation: In some styles of music, such as baroque or classical music, dotted rhythms can be used as a form of ornamentation or decoration. By adding dotted rhythms to certain notes, the composer can embellish the melody and create a more elaborate and intricate musical texture.

Understanding rhythmic notation allows musicians, composers and arrangers to read and execute many ideas and phrases. To fully understand rhythmic notation, one music be able to play dotted notes and tied notes as well. If you find yourself struggling with these tricky rhythms during your practice sessions, contact Greater Toronto Music School today to be connected with a top Toronto music teacher.




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