A quarter note (also called a crotchet in British English) is a note in traditional Western music notation that is notated with a solid note head and a stem.
Here is a quarter note on a five-line staff:
When writing a quarter note (or any note with a stem), if it is below the middle line, the stem points up:
If the stem points up, it is drawn on the right side of the note head. If the stem points down, it appears on the left.
The value of a quarter note is half of a half note, or two eighth notes as in the following example:
A quarter note can also be broken down into four sixteenth notes:
… or any subdivision thereof. If you know simple arithmetic, you can understand music rhythm. For example, two sixteenth notes plus one eighth note equals a quarter note – two sixteenths make an eighth, and two eighths make a quarter.
A quarter note is not a beat
I’ve seen very many students – and even numerous music teachers – confuse quarter notes and beats. To set the record straight, a quarter note is not a beat.
Only in simple time signatures in which the lower number is 4 is each beat a quarter note.
In compound time signatures – those in which the upper number is a multiple of three: 6, 9 12 – the beat is not a quarter note, even if the bottom number is 4. Thus, in 6/4, 9/4 and 12/4 meter, the beat is a dotted half note (a total of three quarter notes).
Similarly, in all other time signatures, in which the bottom number is other than 4, the beat is not a quarter note.
If you wish to master reading music, be sure to check out my comprehensive course, How to Read Sheet Music!
Start Your NEW Piano Journey
Let's stay in touch so I can help you achieve your dream of playing piano as effortlessly and beautifully as possible.
I'll send you occasional lessons and updates to help you along your path.
We will never sell your information, for any reason.