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Sixteenth note

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Title: Sixteenth note  
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Subject: Tremolo, Goldberg Variations, Damping (music), Overture (Bruckner), Rest (music)
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Sixteenth note

Figure 1. A 16th note with stem facing up, a 16th note with stem facing down, and a 16th rest.
Figure 2. Four 16th notes beamed together.
Comparison of duple note values (whole note = 2×half note, etc.).

In music, a 16th note (American) or semiquaver (British) is a note played for half the duration of an eighth note (quaver), hence the name. It is the equivalent of the semifusa in mensural notation, first found in 15th-century notation (Morehen and Rastall 2001).

Sixteenth notes are notated with an oval, filled-in note head and a straight note stem with two flags. (see Figure 1). A similar symbol is the 16th rest (or semiquaver rest), which denotes a silence for the same duration. As with all notes with stems, 16th notes are drawn with stems to the right of the notehead, facing up, when they are below the middle line of the musical staff. When they are on or above the middle line, they are drawn with stems on the left of the note head, facing down. Flags are always on the right side of the stem, and curve to the right. On stems facing up, the flags start at the top and curve down; for downward facing stems, the flags start at the bottom of the stem and curve up. When multiple 16th notes or eighth notes (or 32nd notes, etc.) are next to each other, the flags may be connected with a beam, like the notes in Figure 2. Note the similarities in notating 16th notes and eighth notes. Similar rules apply to smaller divisions such as 32nd notes (demisemiquavers) and 64th notes (hemidemisemiquavers).

In Unicode, U+266C (♬) is a pair of beamed semiquavers.

The note derives from the semifusa in mensural notation. However, semifusa also designates the modern 64th note in Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese.

The name of this note (and rest) in European languages varies greatly:

Language note name rest name
Catalan semicorxera silenci de semicorxera
Chinese 十六分音符 十六分休止符
Danish sekstenedelsnode sekstenedelspause
Dutch zestiende noot zestiende rust
German Sechzehntelnote Sechzehntelpause
Greek δέκατο έκτο παύση δεκάτου έκτου
Italian semicroma pausa di semicroma
Japanese 16分音符 16分休符
Korean 16분음표 16분쉼표
French double-croche quart de soupir
Portuguese semicolcheia pausa de semicolcheia
Romanian şaisprezecime pauză de şaisprezecime
Russian шестнадцатая нота шестнадцатая пауза
Serbian šesnaestin(k)a / песнаестин(к)а šesnaestinska pauza / шеснаестинска пауза
Spanish semicorchea silencio de semicorchea
Swedish sextondelsnot sextondelspaus
Thai โน๊ตตัวเขบ็ตสองชั้น ตัวหยุดตัวเขบ็ตสองชั้น

See also


  • Morehen, John, and Richard Rastall. 2001. "Semiquaver". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
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