Quarter note

A quarter note (American or "German" terminology) or crotchet (British or "classical" terminology) is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note (or semibreve), and is a prominent feature in Arabic music. Quarter notes are notated with a filled-in oval note head and a straight, flagless stem. The stem usually points upwards if it is below the middle line of the stave or downwards if it is on or above the middle line. However, this may be changed if there is more than one part to differentiate between the parts. The head of the note also reverses its orientation in relation to the stem. (See image.)

In Unicode, the symbol is U+2669 ().

A related symbol is the quarter rest (or crotchet rest). It denotes a silence of the same duration as a quarter note. Some describe the quarter rest as a "z joined to a c."

The note derives from the semiminima of mensural notation. The word crotchet comes from Old French crochet, meaning 'little hook', diminutive of croc, 'hook', because of the hook used on the note in black notation. However, because the hook appeared on the eighth note (or quaver) in the later white notation, the modern French term croche refers to an eighth note.

The term quarter note is a calque (loan translation) of the German term Viertelnote. The names of this note (and rest) in most European languages are calqued from the same source:

Language note name rest name
Dutch Kwart noot Kwart rust
French noire soupir
German Viertelnote Viertelpause
Greek Tetarto (τέταρτο) Pafsi tetartou (παύση τετάρτου)
Italian semiminima pausa di semiminima
Polish ćwierćnuta pauza ćwierćnutowa
Portuguese semínima pausa de semínima
Spanish negra silencio de negra
Swedish fjärdedelsnot fjärdedelspaus

The French and Spanish names for the note (both meaning "black") derive from the fact that the semiminima was the longest note to be colored in mensural white notation, which is true as well of the modern form.

The Greek names mean "quarter" (for the note) and "quarter's pause" (for the rest). In Greek, all music rests are called "pauses."

See also

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