I have written a piece of music in 9/8 time (slip jig time?) where the last note on the bass clef is a note 9 beats long. It can be spelled in eight different ways (some of them are ridiculous):

Whole + Eighth

...Half + .Eighth

..Half + Quarter

.Half + .Quarter

.Quarter + .Half

Quarter + ..Half

.Eighth + ...Half

Eighth + Whole

In my case, I end with a dotted quarter note on the treble clef, so I presume that .Half + .Quarter is the right thing to use, but what should I use in this context? More generally, is there a standard way to notate a note value of any length using ties, or does it depend on the context (like enharmonic spellings)?

  • I've updated my answer, having realized I misunderstood your question the first time around. Would appreciate your comment on whether the update helps or muddies the waters.
    – Aaron
    Feb 5, 2023 at 3:29
  • I think people forgot the general question when closing as duplicate.
    – mathlander
    Feb 5, 2023 at 16:56
  • 1
    I think you should edit to refocus on the broader issue. Currently, the post is so focused on the specific issue you encountered that it's too close to the duplicate.
    – Aaron
    Feb 5, 2023 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


The notation should follow the rules for metric grouping; the tie itself doesn't affect how it's done.

In 9/8 time, where a measure ends with a six-beat note, the proper notation is a dotted half note.

So in the case of the question, it would be a dotted half note tied to a dotted quarter note.

At the "top level", notation should preserve half bars or one-third bars, depending on the simplest division of the meter. The presence of ties doesn't change that, except that within a measure, if a held note crosses a beat division, one might use tied notes; one note for each side of the metric division.

In 9/8 time, that is "3+3+3" time, it's okay to group together the first 3+3 or the second 3+3, depending on the needs of the measure. If the entire measure is one long note, then it should be written with a dotted half note followed by a dotted quarter note.

  • I'd add that if there is a prevalent rhythmic pattern, which most tunes will have (particularly dance tunes), that would be a sensible way to use - tie the rhythm notes similarly. The reader has by the last note, 'got into the rhythm'.
    – Tim
    Feb 5, 2023 at 9:12

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