Dotted Notes in Music Composition

A dotted quarter note and a double-dotted half note
A dotted quarter note and a double-dotted half note. If a dotted note falls on a staff line, its rhythm dot is placed in the staff space directly above it.

Brandy Kraemer

Definition of Dotted Notes:

A dotted note is a music note* of any length with a small dot after its note-head (as opposed to above or below it; see staccato). This mark – known as a rhythm dot – adds half of the note’s value to its length:

  • A dotted half note = 1 half note + a quarter note, or 3 beats.
  • A dotted quarter note = 1 quarter note + an eighth note: 1 1/2 beats (or three eighth-note beats).
  • A dotted eighth note = 1 eighth note + a sixteenth note: 3/4 beat (or three sixteenth notes).

Music rests may also be dotted.

Double-Dotted Notes

Two rhythm dots lengthen a note by 3/4 its original value. When counting a double dotted note, it’s helpful to break its length into 1 + 1/2 + 1/4:

  • Double dotted quarter note
    (1 quarter note + 1 eighth note + 1 sixteenth note) = 3 1/2 eighth notes
  • Eighth note with a double dot
    (1 eighth note + 1 sixteenth note + 1 32nd note) = 3 1/2 sixteenth notes

Triple-dotted notes are less common but do occur in piano music. A good example is Chopin’s Prelude Opus 28, No. 3, which contains single, double, and triple rhythm dots.

Also Known As:

  • nota punteggiata (It)
  • note pointée (Fr)
  • punktierte Note (Ger)

Musical Symbols:

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