Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

These are two different bars from "John Thompson's Grade 3" arrangement "Hungarian Rhapsody no.2".

Is there a difference between the time value of the first F in the first picture and the first D in the second picture?

share|improve this question
It's just dividing the beats. – Matthew Read Apr 21 '12 at 19:45
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The difference in the way you would play these is very subtle.

Beams convey information about subtle shifts in phrasing, and about how the composer wants you to subdivide the beats in the measure for rhythmic emphasis. This is up to the interpretive skill of the performer. When you perform groups of sixteenth notes, you don't necessarily mechanically give all of them the same precise duration. You don't necessarily make each note's attack happen exactly on a "quantized grid" at a precise moment in time, if you know what I mean.

These four measures are exactly the same pitches with exactly the same note durations, but a skilled musician would phrase each measure slightly differently.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

No difference in note length, no. The editor might just want to show some phrasing information, but to be honest I don't see the point. The slur does that just as well, or even better.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.