Notes and Rests

  • Sound – Sound is a product of a Vibrating Object.  The Vibrations are transmitted through the air (or water).  
  • Frequencies – Frequency in Sound is the Speed of the Vibrations being transmitted.  Frequency determines the Pitch.
  • Pitch – The Highness or Lowness of a Sound or Tone.
  • Sound Wave – A measurable Wave of Vibration (sound) emitting from a vibrating object (an Instrument).
  • Amplitude – The size of the Vibration.
  • Vibration of a Sound is measured in Cycles Per Second (Hertz)Hz 
  • People can hear frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz.
  • Note – A sound or tone played on a musical instrument.
  • Staff – Five Lines and four spaces where notes are placed.  The Staff shows the Pitch of the Notes.

Notes on the Staff

  • A Whole Note – is equal to 4 Quarter Notes.  A Whole Note makes a constant Tone over 4 Beats (4 Quarter Notes).  Looks like a circle.
  • Half Note – is equal to 2 Quarter Notes in Duration or half a Whole Note.  
  • Quarter Note – is half the duration of a Half Note.  Looks like a small Circle with a Stem.
  • Eighth Note –  1/2  Quarter Note in duration.  Eighth Notes are counted out loud as 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &  ( “one and two and three and four and” ) in 4/4 Time Signature.  Eighth Notes have 1 Flag at the end of it, the flag attaches to a pair of 8th Notes.  
  • Sixteenth Note – 1/2 an 8th Note in sound duration.   Sixteenth Notes are counted out loud as “1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a”.  Pronounced“one ee and uh two ee and uh three ee and uh four ee and uh”  in 4/4 Time Signature.  Sixteenth Notes have 2 Flags that attach four 16th notes in a row.
  • Thirty Second Notes – 1/2 a Sixteenth Note in Duration.  Thirty Second Notes have 3 Flags that attach eight 32nd Notes in a row.
  •  Sixty Fourth (64th Notes) – are 1/2 a  32nd Note in duration (played really fast).  Sixty Fourth Notes have 4 Flags that attach Sixteen 64th notes in a row.
  • Rhythm – Term that applies to all aspects of time in a piece of music. How short or long a duration of notes is described as Rhythm.
  • Tempo – used to describe how fast or slow the Rhythm of a piece of music is.  Tempo is measured as BPM (Beats Per Minute).
  •  Tempo is how fast or slow you play the note values


  • Rest – A duration of Silence.  The musician simply pauses and plays nothing.
  • For every Note there is an equivalent Rest.

Vertically Stacked Notes (Multiple Notes Simultaneously)

  • Vertically Stacked Notes are played simultaneously.  
  • A Guitarist can either Strum or Finger Pick the Notes.  Technically Strumming (and sometimes Fingerpicking) does not precisely play the notes simultaneously, it is the character of the Guitar.
  • In Guitar Music Notation, usually the Chord Name will be noted on top of the Stacked Notes.  This is to make it easier while sight reading.