ADVANCED THEORY - Lesson 4 - Dotted and staccato notes

Andrei Moraru

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2019
So basically...I mean, what even are those words?
  1. Topics of discussion
  2. Dotted notes
  3. Staccato notes
1. Topics of discussion

In this tutorial, we will be talking dotted and staccato notes, which are basically regular notes but with modified lengths. So, let's have some fun.

2. Dotted notes

Dotted notes are basically regular notes that have a dot next to them. I know, nothing spectacular. However, that dot next to the note has a very important significance. Whenever you see a dotted note, it means that it's length is increased by half.

What does that mean? Well, it's pretty simple. If you have a dotted quarter note, it means that that note will last a beat and a half. As you know, a quarter note lasts for a beat. Therefore, if we would increase that length by half, it means that the note will last a beat and a half. If it makes it easier to understand, it lasts the equivalent of a quarter note + an eighth note.

Here is how dotted notes look like on a music sheet:

And here it is played back.

3. Staccato notes

Staccato notes function somewhat in reverse to dotted notes, in that a staccato note has its length halved. In other words, if you have a staccato quarter note, you only have to play it for half of its length, which would translate to an eighth note. Staccato notes are notated by using a dot under the note rather than next to it.

The main difference between dotted and staccato notes is that a staccato note does not influence the other note lengths from a measure. What I mean by that is that beat wise, a staccato quarter note is counted as a beat in a measure, even though it lasts an eighth note.

So, hoes does one play a staccato note on an instrument? I mean, it may be confusing because a staccato note counts as a regular note, even though it should last half as long. Well, it's quite easy. You simply lift your finger from the piano key/instrument string after the required time.

Here is a music sheet example for staccato notes:


And here it is played back.

And that about covers it for this tutorial. In the next one, we are going to be discussing tuplets. See you then.
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