I have the following notes.

four notes on a four note measure

They are four notes lasting 1 time unit on a 4 time units measure on a staff.

Now, I want the last note to last two units, but I cannot convert it to a note with an empty circle because it's at the end of a measure on the staff (and it's not possible to have a note that crosses the line).

So, if, it is possible to do this, then how do I do this (how can I write the notes so that beats lasting 1,1,1,2 time units are played consecutively)?


  • 2
    The usual name for "time unit" is "beat." The note that has an open notehead and a stem is called a "half note" or a "minim." Most notation software will, if you put a half note on the last beat here, automatically convert it to two quarter notes with a tie.
    – phoog
    Sep 7, 2022 at 9:16

2 Answers 2


Two, possibly three ways.

Use a tie which ties the last note to one exactly the same at the beginning of the next bar. That will mean the note lasts for two beats.

Change the time signature to 5/4, which gives room for a two beat note as the last in that bar.

Use a pause mark, or fermata - the dot with an eyebrow - which elongates the last note - although for exactly how long is up to the discretion of the player.

  • For the third idea, you might mention "fermata", which is where my mind went first Sep 7, 2022 at 16:55

Use a "tie". The purpose of a tie is to extend the length of a note, producing the duration of the two notes together. A tie is a curved line from one note, across the bar line in this case, to the adjacent note of the same pitch.

Example of a tie

Although it's a convention not strictly followed, a tie should be placed between the notes, as opposed to connecting the tops of the notes. The above image (rendered via ABCjs) is typical, but the below image (from Wikipedia) is more correct.

Correctly placed tie

Slurs are also curved lines that closely resemble ties. Slurs however, have a different meaning — either to play the underlying notes smoothly, or as an indication of a phrase (like a musical punctuation mark).

The below is not a tie, because the connected notes are not adjacent. (It's a slur: for example, see In Chopin Marche funèbre, measure 19, on right hand, is the A flat played once or three times?)

Slur across three notes of the same pitch

The below is also not a tie, because the connect notes are not identical. (This is also a slur.)

Slur from one pitch to a different pitch

  • 3
    @Tim try a hard refresh of the page Sep 7, 2022 at 7:40
  • 1
    @Tim a hard refresh of the page only helps, at least on my mobile browser, if I first request the desktop version of the page. Without doing so, I see only musical nonsense.
    – phoog
    Sep 7, 2022 at 9:13
  • @tim music.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3748/… etc
    – AakashM
    Sep 7, 2022 at 13:03
  • 1
    The "intelligent" notation features on this site are broken and should not be used, they cause more harm than good. Even if they work now, on some computer, they may not work on other computers tomorrow, and when they break there's probably nobody to fix it. Here's what it looks like on a phone, and nothing helps i.imgur.com/FnT1Hrp.jpg Use regular pictures, they work without troubleshooting and without blaming the viewers. Sep 7, 2022 at 14:43
  • 1
    Although printed music isn't doesn't always handle such things consistently, a tie should be placed between a pair of notes, rather than extending above or below them; if N notes are connected, N-1 separate ties should be used for the purpose.
    – supercat
    Sep 7, 2022 at 17:18

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