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Eighth and sixteenth notes were obviously common enough. I've also seen some examples of 1/32 and 1/64 (link). Were 1/32 and 1/64 used frequently? And what was the shortest note length commonly used in baroque period scores? (Excluding appoggiaturas, trills and other ornaments that have their own special notation.)

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    I suppose the answer could depend on how one defines "common." As you've noted, 64th notes were not unknown. Maybe a better question would be "when did the 32nd, 64th, and 128th notes first appear?"
    – phoog
    Jun 30, 2019 at 17:42
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    In the link you posted there are also 128th notes. They are difficult to see on this copy of the handwritten score. There are four of them, two on the second line and two at the end of the last full written line. Can be seen here: hz.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/e/e5/… Jun 30, 2019 at 20:04

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"256th notes appear in Vivaldi: Concerto in C for ottavino, archi e cembalo, F. IV n. 5." -- Extremes of conventional music notation.

A complete answer would be a histogram of note lengths counted from some corpus such as Yale's, which standardizes on the MIDI quarter note. As with word frequencies in a prose corpus, the histogram would likely have a long thin tail for the rarer durations -- very short, very long, unusually dotted, and bizarrely tupled.

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  • If the Vivaldi is the Recorder concerto RV444, then those have 5 beams, not 6, and are thus 128ths. (See the Largo second movement, b.13-14.) Perhaps someone saw a copy of the MS, and mistook a leger line for a 6th beam?
    – Rosie F
    Nov 15, 2022 at 13:12
  • You may be right about the Vivaldi. But in the meantime, the "Extremes" webpage has been updated: "m. 16 of A. P. Heinrich: Toccata Grande Cromatica from The Sylviad, Set 2 (ca. 1825), ... uses 2048th notes." Nov 15, 2022 at 22:27

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