Half note

Half note

In music, a half note (American) or minim (European) is a note played for half the duration of a whole note (or semibreve) and twice the duration of a quarter note (or crotchet). In time signatures with a denominator of 4, such as 4/4 or 3/4 time, the half note is two beats long.

Figure 1. A half note with stem facing up, a half note with stem facing down, and a half rest.

Half notes are notated with a hollow oval note head (like a whole note) and a straight note stem with no flags (like a quarter note; see Figure 1). The half rest (or minim rest) denotes a silence for the same duration. Half rests are drawn as filled-in rectangles sitting on top of the middle line of the musical staff. As with all notes with stems, half notes are drawn with stems to the right of the notehead, facing up, when they are below the middle line of the staff. When they are on or above the middle line, they are drawn with stems on the left of the note head, facing down.

The note derives from the minima in mensural notation, which is Latin for 'least or smallest,' because at one stage it was the shortest of all note values used. The word minim comes from this name. The American term half note is a 19th-century loan translation of German halbe Note.

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

Language note name rest name
Dutch halve noot halve rust
German halbe Note halbe Pause
Greek Imisi/miso (ήμισι/μισό) Pafsi imiseos/pafsi misou (παύση ημίσεος/παύση μισού)
French blanche demi-pause
Italian minima pausa di minima
Spanish blanca silencio de blanca
Polish półnuta pauza półnutowa
Portuguese mínima pausa de mínima
Russian половинная нота половинная пауза
Chinese 二分音符 二分休止符

The French and Spanish names for the note (all meaning "white") derive from the fact that the minima was the shortest unfilled note in mensural white notation, which is true as well of the modern form. The form in the earlier black notation resembles the modern quarter note (crotchet). The Greek and Chinese names mean "half" and in Greek, both the modern word (miso - μισό) and the older (imisi - ήμισι) are used. For the rest, the word "pafsi" (παύση) is used; this means "pause".


See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Half note — Half Half (h[aum]f), a. [AS. healf, half, half; as a noun, half, side, part; akin to OS., OFries., & D. half, G. halb, Sw. half, Dan. halv, Icel. h[=a]lfr, Goth. halbs. Cf. {Halve}, {Behalf}.] 1. Consisting of a moiety, or half; as, a half… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

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

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

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

  • half note — half ,note noun count AMERICAN TECHNICAL a musical note that is equal to two QUARTER NOTES. British minim …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • half-note — halfˈ note noun (music; N American) A minim • • • Main Entry: ↑half …   Useful english dictionary

  • half note — noun a musical note having the time value of half a whole note • Syn: ↑minim • Hypernyms: ↑note, ↑musical note, ↑tone * * * noun : a musical note of half the value of a whole note called also minim * * * …   Useful english dictionary

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

  • Half Note Records — is a jazz record label founded by the Blue Note Jazz Club in 1998. Although initially it only released live recordings from the club, the label has since expanded its scope to release studio albums as well.[1] The label has garnered critical… …   Wikipedia

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