How dotted notes work, part 2

Hey there!

Today’s video is the second part of our short two-part series on dotted notes. If you missed the first video, you can check it out here: How dotted notes work, part 1. This video addresses the more difficult dots – the dotted eighth, and dotted 16th notes. Enjoy!

How dotted notes work – the lowdown

A quick refresher on dots – the dot is adding half of the note’s value to itself.

  • a dotted half note gets three beats (2 + 1)
  • a dotted quarter note gets 1 and a half beats (1 + 1/2)
  • a dotted eighth note gets 3/4 of a beat (1/2 + 1/4)
  • a dotted sixteenth note gets 3/8 of a beat (1/4 + 1/8)

Dotted notes are often paired with the note that would complete them (aww). For example, a dotted quarter note, worth 1 and a half beats, is often paired with an eighth note, to “finish off” that half beat and round it up to a full two beats.

A dotted eighth note might be paired with a sixteenth note, so that the two notes together can equal one beat.

Lots of math!

How to count dotted eighth notes

Since dotted eighth notes are worth 3/4 of a beat, and are usually “finished off” by a sixteenth note, we need to count with a 16th note subdivision.

When we count basic quarter notes, we count “1, 2, 3, 4..”

When we count in an eighth note subdivision, we count “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + ..”

And when we count in a sixteenth note subdivision, we count ” 1 e + a, 2 e + a, 3 e + a, 4 e + a ..”

Here’s an example of how that would be counted:

Check out the video for more examples on how to count dotted eighth notes!

How to count a dotted sixteenth note

Okay, so let’s take a brief look at the dotted 16th note. It’s rare, but on the off-chance you come across it, you’ll know what to do. So a sixteenth note gets ¼ of a beat. The dot adds half of that – an 8th of a beat. That is a tiny amount of a beat! Hence why it’s rare, but not unheard of. So this dotted 16th note gets 3/8ths of a beat. It’s usually paired with a thirty-second note – yes, twice as fast as a sixteenth note and worth an 8th of a beat. So when you add those guys up, it gets 4/8ths of a beat, or rather ½ of a beat. So these two notes added together equal a single 8th note.

Good luck with dotted notes!

And that concludes our dotted note series. Hope you feel armed and equipped to take on any dot you might encounter.


Allysia has been teaching piano in Canada for nearly a decade, and has her Grade 10 RCM certificate. She especially enjoys nerding out to music history and theory. When she’s not making videos or teaching, she’s reading, writing, and jamming in a rock band.

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