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Quarter note

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Title: Quarter note  
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Subject: Tempo, Grace note, Tuplet, Pavane, Techno
Collection: Note Values
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Quarter note

A quarter note (American) or crotchet (British, from the sense 'hook') is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note (or semibreve). Often, musicians will say that a crotchet is one beat, but this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music; a x quarter note may or may not be the beat. Quarter notes are notated with a filled-in oval note head and a straight, flagless stem. The stem usually points upwards if it is below the middle line of the stave or downwards if it is on or above the middle line. However, the stem direction may differentiate more than one part. The head of the note also reverses its orientation in relation to the stem. (See image.)


In Unicode, the symbol is U+2669 ().

A quarter note/crotchet with stem pointing up, a quarter note with stem pointing down, and a quarter rest
Four quarter notes. Quarter notes are the smallest note value not beamed together.
Comparison of duple note values (whole note = 2×half note, etc.).

A related value is the quarter rest (or crotchet rest). It denotes a silence of the same duration as a quarter note. It typically appears as the symbol and occasionally as the older symbol .[1]

The note derives from the semiminima of mensural notation. The word crotchet comes from Old French crochet, meaning 'little hook', diminutive of croc, 'hook', because of the hook used on the note in black notation. However, because the hook appeared on the eighth note (or quaver) in the later white notation, the modern French term croche refers to an eighth note.

It is played for half the length of a minim (or "half note") and twice that of a quaver (an "eighth note"). It is one beat in a bar of 4/4. The term quarter note is a calque (loan translation) of the German term Viertelnote. The names of this note (and rest) in most languages are calqued from the same source:

Language note name rest name
Bulgarian четвъртинка четвъртинка пауза
Catalan negra silenci de negra
Chinese 四分音符 四分休止符
Croatian četvrtinka četvrtinska pauza
Czech čtvrťová nota čtvrťová pauza
Danish fjerdedelsnode fjerdedelspause
Dutch kwartnoot kwartrust
Finnish neljäsosanuotti neljäsosatauko
French noire soupir
Galician negra silencio de negra
German Viertelnote Viertelpause
Greek tetarto (τέταρτο) pausi tetartou (παύση τετάρτου)
Italian semiminima pausa di semiminima
Japanese 4分音符 4分休符
Korean 4분음표 4분쉼표
Norwegian fjerdedelsnote fjerdedelspause
Polish ćwierćnuta pauza ćwierćnutowa
Portuguese semínima pausa de semínima
Russian четвертная нота четвертная пауза
Serbian četvrtin(k)a / четвртин(к)а četvrtinska pauza/ четвртинска пауза
Slovak štvrťová nota štvrťová pomlčka
Spanish negra silencio de negra
Swedish fjärdedelsnot fjärdedelspaus
Turkish dörtlük nota dörtlük es
Thai โน๊ตตัวดำ ตัวหยุดตัวดำ

The Galician, Catalan, French and Spanish names for the note (all of them meaning "black") derive from the fact that the semiminima was the longest note to be colored in mensural white notation, which is true as well of the modern form.

The Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Serbian and Slovak names mean "quarter" (for the note) and "quarter's pause" (for the rest).


  1. ^ Examples of the older symbol are found in English music up to the early 20th century, e.g. W. A. Mozart Requiem Mass, vocal score ed. W. T. Best, pub. London: Novello & Co. Ltd. 1879
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