whole note

Whole note | Semibreve
Image © Brandy Kraemer


The musical term whole note, or semibreve, is worth four quarter-note beats and takes up an entire measure in 4/ 4 time. A whole note is written in notation as a slightly enlarged, stemless, hollow note-head. Two half notes equal one whole note.

  • More Note Values:
    ▪ whole note | semibreve
    ▪ half note | minim
    ▪ quarter note | crotchet
    ▪ eighth note | quaver
    ▪ sixteenth note | semiquaver
    ▪ thirty-second note | demisemiquaver 

Also Known As:

  • semibreve
  • semibreve (It)
  • ronde (Fr)
  • ganze Note (Ger)

Reading Piano Music
• Note-Lengths in U.K. & U.S. English
• Notes of the Piano Keys
• Memorize the Grand Staff Notes
• Reading Music Rests
Piano Chords
• Easy Bass Piano Chords
• Chord Types & Symbols
• Piano Chord Fingering
• Diminished Chords & Dissonance
Reading Musical Symbols
• How to Play Dotted Notes
• Accidentals & Double-Accidentals
Beginner Piano Lessons
• Comparing Major & Minor
• Understanding the Key Signature
• Types of Barlines
• BPM & Tempo Commands
• Left Hand Piano Fingering
Piano Care
How to Safely Whiten Your Piano Keys
Learn ivory-safe methods for brightening up your acoustic piano keys, and find out what you can do to prevent keyboard yellowing.
When to Tune a Piano
Find out when (and how frequently) you should schedule a professional piano tuning to keep your piano healthy and on-pitch.
Ideal Piano Temp & Humidity Levels
Maintain sound quality and piano health by monitoring the temperature, humidity, and natural light in your piano room.

Musical Quizzes!
▪ Identify the Piano Keys
Beginner Quiz: Label and identify the white and black piano keys.

Musical Articulation:
◦ staccato
◦ tie
◦ (rfz) rinforzando
◦ arpeggiato
◦ accentato
Volume Commands & Symbols:
◦ (mf) mezzo forte
◦ (sfz) sforzando
◦ diminuendo
◦ al niente
◦ (fp) fortepiano
Common French Musical Terms:
◦ à l’aise
◦ doucement
◦ en ralentissant
◦ mi-doux
◦ très vite
German Musical Commands:
◦ anschwellend
◦ lebhaft
◦ geschwind
◦ fröhlich
◦ schnell
Related Glossaries
■ Italian Music Commands
■ Essential Piano Music Glossary
■ German Musical Terms

How to Start Playing Piano:

• Octave Naming & Pitch Notation
'Pitch class' refers to an octave from one C to the next. In pitch notation, the notes C4, D4, and B4 all belong to the same pitch class (in this example the fourth octave).
• Finding Middle C on Different Keyboard Sizes
It's normal to be confused about the location of middle C, especially on keyboards with fewer than the standard 88 keys. Use this illustrated guide to find middle C and remember its location.
▪ (M.S.) mano sinistra: “left hand”; the passage should be played with the left hand.
▪ : to play “majestically”; to perform with grand, dignified expression. Maestoso is often used in the title of a musical composition, as in the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (Elvira Madigan), Allegro maestoso.
▪ marcato: “marked; to make stand out.” Marcato refers to both a written/verbal command as well as a musical symbol affecting articulation. Indicates that a note or series of notes is to be played with accentuation. See accentato.
Marcatissimo is to make notes heavily accented.
▪ martellato: (usually seen as a command for string sections, but has been and can be used to command piano music) to give notes a heavy, hammer-like accent.
▪ marziale: “march-like”; see alla marcia.
▪ melancolico: “full of melancholy”; to play in a painful, solemn, and mournful manner.