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Note Shapes

Posted by Robert Thomas on February 11th, 2010

There are three basic shapes for note heads. One, associated with the whole note and double whole note, is an open oval which does not slant.1 The second, associated with the half note, is an open oval which slants up and to the right. The third, associated with the quarter note and all smaller note values, is a filled-in oval which slants up and to the right. No note head is a round circle; they are all oval shapes.


14th Note Shapes Table

When drawing a note head in a space, make sure that it is centered within the space and does not bleed over the line on either side of the space. Similarly, when drawing a note head on a line, it should be centered on the line and should not fill in more than half of the spaces on either side of the line. Thus, the size of note heads should be adjusted to the size of the staff: the bigger the staff, the bigger the note head will need to be, and vice versa. The head should always be as wide as the distance between two staff lines. When a note appears in the space immediately above or immediately below the staff, the note head should always touch, but not overlap, the top or bottom line of the staff.


1 The double whole note can either be written as an oval bordered by two lines or as a rectangle.


14th Post Double Whole Note 1

14th Post Double Whole Note 2
Double Whole Note as oval bordered by two lines
Rectangular Double Whole Note

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