Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Whole note
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Whole note

In music, a whole note or semibreve is a note notated with a hollow oval note head, like a half note, and no note stem (see Figure 1). Its length is equal to four beats in 4/4 time or is sometimes used to last the entire duration of a measure even if, in the time signature, a measure is not the length of a whole note long. Most other notes divide the whole note; half notes are played for one half the duration of the whole note, quarter notes are each played for one quarter the duration, etc. The note twice the length of the whole note is the double whole note (or breve).

A similar symbol is the whole rest (or semibreve rest), which usually denotes a silence for the same duration. However, it is often used to denote a rest lasting a full bar, whether that bar lasts four beats or not - for example, it is often used to denote a full bar rest in 3/4 time. Whole rests are drawn as filled-in rectangles hanging under the second line from the top of the musical staff.

Figure 1. A whole note and a whole rest.

See also: musical notation, eighth note, quarter note, half note, double whole note, longa