I have been trying to learn sheet music once again by re-teaching myself by reading pieces of music. Basically I'm using a digital audio work station to place the notes into a piano roll and checking the score to see if they match up with the sheet music, I feel it is an excellent way for learning sheet music. Now the piece of music makes uses of dotted notes, 1/8th dotted especially, this is my problem, when I draw the notes into the piano roll and check the score the notes show up as being tied notes instead of dotted notes, a 1/8th dotted note is simply 3 × 1/16 notes.

Please take a look at the picture below of the sheet music:

As you can see, first we have an 8th note, a 16th note and a dotted eighth note, and then an eighth, afterwards we have 3 16th notes and then a dotted eighth before a final eighth. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Well this is how my score is turning out to look like: enter image description here

Why are there 11 notes in my score, when there are only 9 notes? I only have 9 notes drawn out and it perfectly fits 1 bar. Also you can see that instead of showing the note as being dotted it's tied? I'm really confused.

2 Answers 2


In your score, if you count the tied notes as a unit (which you should) adds up to 9 notes and there are 9 notes in the original part.

Count the notes between the circles as one. The original score is trying to collect all these values into one.

enter image description here

The way your score turned out is correct and much more simplified. I doubt you'll come across the first one often. The second one is more common.

  • 5
    Also in the second one, notice how you can clearly see each beat with the beaming. It doesn't seem like much, but when sight reading a piece for the first time it makes a big difference.
    – Dom
    Jul 3, 2015 at 16:13
  • What Dom said knowing that the tie is on the 1, 2, 3 or 4 is the second best thing after knowing that the bar line is always on the 1. Jul 3, 2015 at 16:27
  • 1
    You are assuming "the beat" is four quarter notes. We don't know if the OP's sheet music was typeset accurately, or put together by somebody who didn't know what they were doing, but the notation shown in the first bar would be "correct" if the "beat" in that bar was really 3+1+3+1/8, or the Latin American rhythm 3+3+2+3+3+2/16. (Of course this would usually be notated in longer note values and split into two bars, but without any context, all this is guesswork).
    – user19146
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:42
  • In common practice the beaming should reflect the meter as much as possible, so the first example image is usually considered bad practice. There are too few bars for judgement, but if the piece goes on with similar beaming in first image, then 4/4 is not appropriate. Jul 3, 2015 at 21:50

From the way you worded your question, it sounds like you might not be completely clear on the concept of dotted notes vs. tied notes. A dot after a note means the rhythmic value of the note is increased by 1/2 of the value of the note. For example, a dotted half note lasts for 3 beats.

A tie between two notes means that they are played as one note with the value of the two notes added together. For example, a half note tied to a quarter note lasts 3 beats, the same as a dotted half note.

Tied notes don't always have a dotted note equivalent, because they are used when a note crosses a bar line or when using it makes the notation more clearly reflect the meter.

Generally the choice of whether to use a dotted note vs. two tied notes is based on what makes the notation easiest to follow. It's hard to explain this in words, but to see it, try writing in the beats in each version of the music (i.e. write 1 - 2 -3 -4 to indicate where the beats fall in the measure. I think you will see that it is a lot easier to do that in the 2nd version.

  • This is a decent answer that would be great if it included the actual answer to the actual question right at the beginning, which is "Yes, the two rhythms shown are equivalent". Then the explanation clarifying why they are equivalent is gravy on top of turkey and mashed potatoes instead of just the gravy on a plate. Jul 8, 2015 at 20:18

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