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victoria Williams Music Theory

Victoria Williams

LmusTCL BA Mus (Hons) MISM

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Next UK ABRSM Online Theory Exams Grades 1-5:
16th March 2021
Next UK Trinity Paper-based Theory Exams Grades 1-8:
Sat 8th May 2021

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6. Dotted Notes

Grade One Music Theory - Lesson 6: Dotted Notes

Suitable for:  ABRSM Grade 1   Trinity Grade 1   GCSE   AP Music Theory Beginners 


What are Dotted Notes?

In music theory, all notes and rests can have their lengths increased if we add one or more dots. 

For Grade 1 music theory, you only need to understand what happens when we add one dot. Notes with dots are called dotted notes

(For Grade 1 Trinity, you'll only be tested on dotted minims (dotted half notes)).

Dots are always placed on the right side of the note head.


A dot makes a note (or rest) longer by 50%. Or, in other words, a dotted note is equal to itself, plus half of itself.

Let's say a crotchet (or "quarter note" in the USA) is worth one beat.

Crotchet/Quarter note - music theory

Crotchet (quarter note)=

1 beat

 If we add a dot to the note, its length is increased by 50% (the note plus half its length).

Dotted Crotchet/Quarter note - music theory

Dotted crotchet (quarter note)=

1 + 1/2 beat = 1 and a half beats

A minim (half note) is worth two beats.

Minim/Half note - music theory


If we add a dot, its length is also increased by 50%.

Dotted Minim/Half note - music theory

Dotted minim/half note=

2 + 1 = 3 beats

A quaver (eighth note) is worth half a beat.

Quaver/Eighth note - music theory


Adding a dot increases its length by 50%. 

Dotted Quaver/eighth note - music theory


If you find it difficult to think in numbers, try something more refreshing, like an orange! Point your cursor at the fruit to see what it represents.

Orange=Crotchet - music theory example

One whole orange is like one whole beat, or a crotchet (quarter note).

It's the same size as ...

Two halves=One = music theory example

...two half oranges (quavers/eighth notes)

or even


Four quarters=One - music theory example

four quarter oranges (semiquavers/sixteenth notes).


If you add a dot to a note, it's like adding a smaller bit of orange to the bit you've already got. One whole orange plus half an orange would be called a "dotted whole orange"! One half orange plus one quarter orange would be a "dotted half orange"! Smiley face for music theory