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Agumentation Dots

Posted by Robert Thomas on March 9th, 2010

A dot placed to the right of either a note or a previous augmentation dot increases the value of the note by one-half of the value which immediately precedes it.1 For example, a dotted quarter note is equal to one-and-a-half quarter notes, or three eighth notes, since the dot is equal to one-half the value which immediately preceded it — in this case, a quarter note. A double-dotted quarter note is equal to seven sixteenth notes: the quarter note is equal to four sixteenth notes, the first dot is equal to sixteenth notes (an eighth note, or one-half a quarter note), and the second dot is equal to one sixteenth note (half the dot which immediately preceded it — in this case, half an eighth note).2 Triple augmentation dots, which are uncommon, follow the same rule.

The augmentation dot is always placed in the center of a space, regardless of whether the note it is attached to is on a line or in a space, and should be bold enough to be immediately obvious. When a note is placed in a space, the dot is centered in the same space. When a note is on a line, the dot is placed in the space above the line — the exception to this rule is the interval of a second where one note is on a line and the other in a space. In this case, if the lower of the two notes is on the line, the dot is placed in the space beneath it; never put two independent augmentation dots on the same staff space. When a note appears on a ledger line, the dot is placed in the middle of the space above the ledger line on which the note appears. For notes requiring flags, the stem length, flag length, and/or placement of the augmentation dot may need to be altered in order to avoid any collision between the flag and augmentation dot.3

Augmentation dots in tone clusters should be vertically aligned. Dots should never be separated from the note head to which they are attached: divisi notes should be placed as necessary to allow augmentation dots to remain centered.

1 A good working position for the placement of augmentation dots is about one-half space to the right of the note it is attached to.

2 Double and triple augmentation dots are placed one half space beyond the single dot on the same horizontal plane.

3 In Music Notation: A Manual of Modern Practice, Gardner Reed recommends that the dot be placed above and beyond the tail of the flag.

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