Eighth note

Eighth note
Figure 1. An eighth note with stem facing up, an eighth note with stem facing down, and an eighth rest.
Figure 2. Four eighth notes beamed together.

An eighth note (in the US and Canada) or a quaver (other English-speaking countries) is a musical note played for one eighth the duration of a whole note, hence the name.

Eighth notes are notated with an oval, filled-in note head and a straight note stem with one flag. (see Figure 1). A related symbol is the eighth rest (or quaver rest), which denotes a silence for the same duration.

In Unicode, the symbols U+266A () and U+266B () are an eighth note and beamed pair of eighth notes respectively. The characters are inherited from the early 1980s code page 437, where they have codes 13 and 14 respectively.

As with all notes with stems, the general rule is that eighth notes are drawn with stems to the right of the notehead, facing up, when they are below the middle line of the musical staff. When they are on or above the middle line, they are drawn with stems on the left of the note head, facing down. Alternatively, stems are used to indicate voicing or parts; all stems for the upper voice's notes (or "part") are drawn facing up, regardless of their position on the staff. Similarly, stems for the next lower part's notes are down facing down. This makes the voices/parts clear to the player and singer.

Flags are always on the right side of the stem, and curve to the right. On stems facing up, the flag starts at the top and curves down; for downward facing stems, the flags start at the bottom of the stem and curve up. When multiple eighth notes or sixteenth notes (or thirty-second notes, etc.) are next to each other, the stems may be connected with a beam rather than a flag, as shown in Figure 2.

Eighth notes in 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8 are beamed 3 eighth notes at a time.


The word quaver comes from the now archaic use of the verb to quaver meaning to sing in trills.

The note derives from the fusa of mensural notation; however, fusa is the modern Spanish and Portuguese name for the thirty-second note.

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

Language note name rest name
Dutch achtste noot achtste rust
German Achtelnote Achtelpause
French croche demi-soupir
Italian croma pausa di croma
Spanish corchea silencio de corchea
Portuguese colcheia pausa de colcheia
Polish ósemka pauza ósemkowa
Russian восьмая нота восьмая пауза
Finnish Kahdeksasosanuotti Kahdeksasosatauko
Turkish sekizlik nota sekizlik es

The French name, croche is from the same source as crotchet, the British name for the quarter note. The name derives from crochata ("hooked"), to apply to the flags of the semiminima (in white notation) and fusa (in black notation) in mensural notation; thus the name came to be used for different notes.

In popular culture

In the climactic ending of the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, eighth and sixteenth notes are mentioned while trying to communicate with aliens using basic tonal vocabulary.

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Eighth note — Eighth Eighth ([=a]tth), a. [AS. eahto[eth]a.] 1. Next in order after the seventh. [1913 Webster] 2. Consisting of one of eight equal divisions of a thing. [1913 Webster] {Eighth note} (Mus.), the eighth part of a whole note, or semibreve; a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

  • eighth note — n AmE technical a musical note that continues for an eighth of the length of a ↑whole note British Equivalent: quaver …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • eighth note — eighth ,note noun count AMERICAN a musical note played for one eighth as long as a WHOLE NOTE …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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

  • eighth note — eighth′ note n. mad a musical note having one eighth the time value of a whole note • Etymology: 1885–90, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • eighth note — ► NOUN Music, chiefly N. Amer. ▪ a quaver …   English terms dictionary

  • eighth note — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms eighth note : singular eighth note plural eighth notes music American a quaver II, 1) …   English dictionary

  • eighth note — note with is equal to one eighth of a whole note (Music) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • eighth note — noun a musical note having the time value of an eighth of a whole note • Syn: ↑quaver • Derivationally related forms: ↑quaver (for: ↑quaver) • Hypernyms: ↑note, ↑musical n …   Useful english dictionary

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