Hemi, Demi, and Semi!

Posted: February 10, 2016 in Articles
Tags: , , , , , ,

NoteYoWestern music has a few basic kinds of notes; it has whole notes, half notes (1/2 of a whole note), quarter notes (1/4 of a whole note), eighth notes (1/8 of a whole note), sixteenth notes (1/16 of a whole note), thirty-second notes (1/32 of a whole note), and others which are commonly used. However, as usual, England and America has its differences. In the UK, an eighth note is called a quaver. What then, you may ask, is a sixteenth note? A thirty second note?

To indicate the notes with less time value, the British music system adds prefixes. It seems semi, demi, and hemi are the ones they use. Therefore, a sixteenth note is called a semiquaver and a thirty-second note is a demisemiquaver.

The next prefix is hemi, which means that a two hundred fifty-sixth note is a demisemihemidemisemiquaver.

I definitely prefer the system we use here in the US, even though I really enjoy saying, “demisemihemidemisemiquaver” 🙂

  1. Jeff says:

    In all of my music schooling, I never learned this. Or at least if I did, I promptly forgot it. I also can’t say that I have ever actually seen a 256th note. 😀

    • I don’t think I’ve ever seen one either, but apparently they exist. Our mom teaches a couple of gals from the UK, and they do indeed call the notes quavers, semiquavers, etc. I guess there would be no reason to learn their system here in the US (thank goodness)

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