I'm learning the basics of musical theory and I see this sheet and get this question, the white dotted noted has a time of (2 + 1/2) right? But with the value of the black note the compass make a total of (3 + 1/2) and "breaks" the time signature of 3/4. Can you explain me this, please?

Zarnarkand Sheet

  • 1
    The dotted minim (meaning a duration of a minim plus a crochet) is a separate voice from the minim-crochet under it. You play B for the full 3 beats, and E-D (2 beats, 1 beat) starting at the same time as B.
    – user16935
    Nov 13, 2015 at 17:44
  • 3
    The dot means multiply by 1.5, not add 0.5.
    – user28
    Nov 14, 2015 at 1:34
  • 1
    According to you the second measure lasts 6 instead of 3... there are notes that are played at the same time and hence their duration doesn't simply add up.
    – Bakuriu
    Nov 14, 2015 at 9:25

5 Answers 5


You need to think of that measure as if it were two instruments playing.

The higher of the two is playing a dotted "Β" which lasts for 3 beats, while the lower voice is playing an "Ε" for 2 beats and a "D" for the third beat.

It all works out exactly when you look at it that way.

  • 8
    An important cue from the notation here that there are two voices is that the stems are in opposite directions. For that measure, in that staff, the stem-up note equals 3 beats and the stem-down notes equal 3 beats.
    – NReilingh
    Nov 13, 2015 at 18:55
  • 1
    Absolutely. It took me a while to understand that when I first started learning music. I suspect some teachers don't explicitly clarify issues like this (Hindemith excepted).
    – Old John
    Nov 13, 2015 at 19:23

A dot adds half of the note value to the note. Not necessarily half a beat. In this case you have a minim (2 beats) with a dot which adds a crotchet (one beat)

Remember dots adds different things to the note value depending on what dotted note it is.


In the measure you have outlined in red, you are looking at two indepent musical lines or parts which are placed on one musical staff. The time signature is 3/4, meaning that each measure has the time value of three quarter notes. The upper part has a single note, B, which has a duration of three beats (a dotted half note). The lower part has two notes at the pitch E. The first note has two beats (a half note), and the second note has one beat (a quarter note). So both of these musical lines add up to three beats, properly filling up a measure of 3/4 time.


A dotted quarter note is equal to 3 beats. The numbers you see below those notes are the fingers you are going to be using to play those notes. 1 being your thumb and 5 being your pinky. So with your dumb and ring finger you play the first stacked notes. You would hold down your thumb for the entire 3 beats in the measure. You would hold your index finger for two beats and then you would move to your pinky for the last note while all while still holding your thumb down.


When there is a dotted notes the dot with the notes measures 1/2 of the value of the notes E.g.. if there is a dotted minim that dot contain 1/2 of the value of minim it means 1

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