# Why is this 4th-note written as two 8th-notes tied together?

In the second measure of the first voice, the 8th notes are tied together in pairs. Why would it be notated this way instead of as fourth-notes?

• Incidentally, while both "fourth" and "quarter" can be used to refer to the fraction 1/4, only the latter term is recognized in American English to refer to the note duration (British English use terms like semibreve, minim, crotchet, quaver, and semiquaver to refer to whole, half, quarter, eigth, sixteenth notes; I don't know about other dialects). – supercat Sep 24 '18 at 22:28

Besides the answers above, which are correct, this can also happen in non-lyrical music. You might choose not to write a note in the largest fraction(s) available if you want to use the smaller fractions to show the underlying rhythmic structure or to make it more obvious where two staves align.

In this song, for example, looking at the top two staves especially, the basic block looks like eighth notes mostly grouped in pairs. This allows you to change your frame slightly when describing how the voices align.

You can actually see this in the third staff. The first note is a dotted quarter. Why, then, is the second note an eighth tied to a quarter; why not make it a dotted quarter too? There's only one syllable in all verses.

The answer is that it helps to keep the alignment of the basic blocks together. If we had two dotted quarters, it'd almost suggest the basic unit was in threes like a waltz. But by using a tied eighth, we complete the pair from the first dotted quarter and the quarter note then lines up with the next pair.

Of course, this is not an exact science and the lyrical answer is probably the correct one here, but just in case you see this happening elsewhere, this is a possible explanation. :)

P.S. This recent answer also perfectly highlights using subdivided notes to show the beats in a measure!

• Thank you, this was a very helpful and revealing answer! (as were the others) – Anna Sep 27 '18 at 14:25
• @Anna I'm glad, but I do think it's worth accepting Tim's answer again — I think he's probably right about why the arranger did it here, and I just offer more background. If you leave an upvote that's enough for me! – Luke Sawczak Sep 27 '18 at 14:31
• Thanks for the thought ! Not sure about thinking it's a waltz, though ! – Tim Sep 28 '18 at 13:21
• lol at someone's drive-by downvote of my single +1 just now :p Is there something incorrect in this answer, I wonder? – Luke Sawczak Oct 5 '18 at 2:54

If all the verses had exactly the same number of syllables, there would be no need. 'Varm' and 'korv' are both one syllable, so need a crotchet each, shown by tied quavers. But in verse 2, 'ha-de sme-tat' uses 4 syllables, which need to be shown on the dots with 4 quavers.

The music is trying to show how each word in each verse is sung, and because they're all slightly different, this is the only way.

EDIT: Luke is nearly right about the alignment - however, even writing another dotted crotchet in the third line would still line up. The better reason is that 'proper' written dots in 4/4 should make the bar easily split into two equal halves and the tied quaver/crotchet does that. Having a dotted crotchet would not.It just makes life easier for the reader.

• This kind of slur is sometimes typeset with a dotted line, to indicate that it applies sometimes but not always. – Kilian Foth Sep 24 '18 at 6:12
• @KilianFoth - good point, now you mention, yes, I've seen that, and it actually makes more sense. – Tim Sep 24 '18 at 6:57

Because the lyrics of some (but not all) stanzas require breaking the quarter note into two eighth notes. It's sort of a tossup what to play when playing this purely instrumentally. If you are playing this three times (sort of as a sing-along) it makes some sense to follow the metre of the individual stanzas. Otherwise I'd likely play the quarters.