Whole note


Whole note

In music, a whole note (American or "German" terminology) or semibreve (British or "classical" terminology) is a note represented by a hollow oval note head, like a half note (or "minim"), and no note stem (see Figure 1). Its length is typically equal to four beats in 4/4 time. Most other notes divide the whole note; half notes are played for one half the duration of the whole note, quarter notes (or "crotchets") are each played for one quarter the duration, etc.A whole note lasts half as long as a double whole note (or "breve").

A related symbol is the whole rest (or semibreve rest), which usually denotes a silence for the same duration. Whole rests are drawn as filled-in rectangles hanging under the second line from the top of a musical staff.

The whole rest, and occasionally the whole note, are also used in a more general way in time signatures other than 4/4; there they can represent the entire measure, regardless of how many whole notes would ordinarily fit in. For example, a whole rest may have a length equal to five beats if used in 5/4 time. If followed by a quarter note, however, it will have the ordinary value.

The whole note derives from the "semibrevis" of mensural notation, and this is the origin of the British name. The American name is a loan translation of the German "Ganze Note".

The names of this note (and rest) in European languages vary greatly:

The French and Spanish names for the note (both meaning "round") derive from the fact that the "semibrevis" was distinguished by its round stemless shape, which is true as well of the modern form (in contrast to the double whole note or shorter values with stems). The Greek name means "whole".


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Whole note — Whole Whole, a. [OE. hole, hol, hal, hool, AS. h[=a]l well, sound, healthy; akin to OFries. & OS. h?l, D. heel, G. heil, Icel. heill, Sw. hel whole, Dan. heel, Goth. hails well, sound, OIr. c?l augury. Cf. {Hale}, {Hail} to greet, {Heal} to cure …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

  • whole note — n. Music a note held for the duration of four beats in common, or 4/4, time: see NOTE …   English World dictionary

  • whole note — n AmE a musical note which continues for as long as two ↑half notes British Equivalent: semibreve …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • whole note — whole ,note noun count AMERICAN a musical note that has the same value as two HALF NOTES …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • whole note — whole′ note n. mad a musical note equivalent in value to four quarter notes • Etymology: 1590–1600 …   From formal English to slang

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

  • whole note — noun a musical note having the longest time value (equal to four beats in common time) • Syn: ↑semibreve • Hypernyms: ↑note, ↑musical note, ↑tone …   Useful english dictionary

  • whole note — noun Date: 1841 a musical note equal in time value to four quarter notes or two half notes see note illustration …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • whole note — Music. a note equivalent in duration to four quarter notes. See illus. under note. [1590 1600] * * * …   Universalium


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