While I was reading some sheet music I had gotten, I crossed a half note with three dots after it. What is this called? How many beats does it get (4/4)?


A single dot after a note (or rest) indicates that you add half the value of the note before it.

Each additional dot adds another half of the increment.

In 4/4 time, a half note is 2 beats. There will be 2 quarter notes left in the measure.

A dotted half note is 2 + 1 = 3 beats.

A doubly dotted half note is 2 + 1 + 0.5 = 3.5 beats.

A triply dotted half note is 2 + 1 + 0.5 + 0.25 = 3.75 beats. There will be 1 sixteenth note left in the measure.

This sequence, which is a geometric series, converges to twice the original note value as you add more dots.

  • 5
    Somehow, an infinite sequence converging to a finite number makes a LOT more sense when expressed with multiply dotted notes.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 9 '19 at 13:45
  • Well, the original half-note and the increments form a geometric series 2, 1, 0.5 etc, and the duration of each of those notes is the sum of some of the terms of that geometric series. But your sequence 2, 3, 3.5 etc. isn't a geometric series.
    – Rosie F
    Oct 29 '19 at 18:25

A triple-dotted half note is two beats plus half of that, plus half of the addition, plus half of THAT addition. Easier to show in notation!

enter image description here

Some engravers eschew double and triple dots on principle. Others find them acceptable in situations like my second example. They're mainstream enough to be offered as standard notation in all the popular notation programs. Any MORE than three dots exist only in theoretical discussion (but, go on, prove me wrong!)

Here's an example from Chopin (Prelude in G major for piano, Op. 28, No. 3.) Difficult, I think, to argue that it isn't a perfectly clear and useful notation.

enter image description here

  • Great examples. Kind of a newbie question here: In the top stave of the first example, should there be ties between the half note, quarter note, eighth note, and sixteenth note? Mar 23 '19 at 17:07
  • I used the + signs to mean the same thing. Mar 23 '19 at 18:49

Basically, a triple-dotted note means that you add 7/8 the duration of the note. Here's how it works:

Single Dot: Add 1/2. Example: Dotted Half Note: 2 + 1 = 3 beats
Double Dot: Add 3/4. Example: Double-Dotted Half Note: 2 + 1.5 = 3.5 beats
Triple Dot: Add 7/8. Example: Triple-Dotted Half Note: 2 + 1.75 = 3.75 beats

The pattern continues. You can even have Quadruple-Dotted notes, which would constitute an additional 15/16 times the duration. Example: A Quadruple-Dotted Half Note is 3.875 beats (half note + quarter note + eighth note + sixteenth note + thirty-second note).

Hope this helps.


If you mind the values of the notes, you can see the next shorter value is 1/2 of the note value in the previous line: 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 etc.

As we know a dotted note is extended by the half of its value, that means you have to add the next shorter note. It's value is the half of the note, and the length of the note is 50% extended.

enter image description here

So the note length of the dotted note is 150% if undotted note.

Each further point after a dotted note means you have to extend the dotted note value with the next shorter note:

...I crossed a half note with three dots after it. What is this called?

It's called a triple-dotted half note.

Its length is a half note (plus a quarter plus an eighth plus a sixteenth note)


*A triple-dotted note is a note with three dots written after it;

As a picture tells more than thousand words:

enter image description here

Dotted notes and their equivalent durations. The curved lines, called ties, add the note values together.


How many beats does it get (4/4)

You'll have to count 4 beats, whereby the last beat is 1/16th shorter, it is probably an up-beat of a 1/16th note to the next bar.

  • 3
    This answer might be confusing Mar 10 '19 at 5:25

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