- A dot (period) immediately to the right of a note head increases its length (its duration) by 50%, or half.
- So, it total, the note lasts 1.5 (one-and-a-half) times what it would without the dot.
- This example might make it clear:
- All these bars/measures are of equal length (as they should be);
- Working backwards, the third bar is a single semibreve which is the same as four crotchets;
- The second bar has a minim with a dot followed by a crotchet (this has to be the same as a semibreve):
- The dot on the minim makes it half as much again in length;
- There are two crotchets in a minim;
- So a dotted minim is the same as three crotchets;
- Plus the last one makes four in the bar.
- The first bar is a minim, then a dotted crotchet, then a quaver:
- The dotted crotchet is worth a crotchet-and-a-half;
- And the quaver is half a crotchet;
- so the two together make two crotchets.
- So now listen to it again, and try to count along with the rhythm, inserting "and" where the quaver is.
- Now look at a well known tune, see if you can recognise it and see how the lengths of dotted notes add up in the two bars where they appear:
- By the way, a dot above or below a note has a completely different meaning:
- It is called a staccato mark and means that the note should be made shorter that it looks
- A set of notes all with staccato marks are intended to sound disjointed and jerky.
- The opposite of staccato is legato, which means smooth, the notes should all be joined without any gaps.
- For singers, legato is normally indicated using a slur over notes, although this can be confused with a melisma or a phrase mark.
- Either staccato or legato can also be written in words
For more details on dots, see Basic Music Theory - Dots
For more on staccato marks see Basic Music Theory - Staccato