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In Western musical notation, a dotted note is a note with a small dot written after it. The dot adds a half as much again to the basic note's duration. If the basic note lasts 2 beats, the corresponding dotted note lasts 3 beats.
Any note value may be dotted.
The use of a dot for augmentation of a note dates back at least to the 10th century, although the exact amount of augmentation is disputed; see Neume.
More than one dot may be added; each dot adds half of the duration added by the previous dot, as shown in example 1.
A double-dotted note is a note with two small dots written after it. Its duration is 1 3/4 times (1 + 1/2 + 1/4) its basic note value.
The double-dotted note is used less frequently than the dotted note. Typically, as in the example below, it is followed by a note whose duration is one-quarter the length of the basic note value, completing the next higher note value.
Example 2 is a fragment of the second movement of Joseph Haydn's String Quartet, Opus 74, No. 2, a theme and variations. The first note is double-dotted.
- Haydn's theme was adapted for piano by an unknown composer; the adapted version can be heard here (3.7 kB MIDI file).
In a French overture (and sometimes other Baroque music), notes written as dotted notes are often interpreted to mean double-dotted notes, and the following note is commensurately shortened; see authentic performance.
A triple-dotted note is a note with three dots written after it; its duration is 1 7/8 times (1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8) its basic note value. Use of a triple-dotted note value is not common in the Baroque and Classical periods, but quite common in the music of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner, especially in their brass parts. See example 3.
An example of the use of double- and triple-dotted notes is the Prelude in G Major for piano, op. 28 No. 3, by Frédéric Chopin. The piece, in common time (4/4), contains running semiquavers in the left hand. Several times during the piece Chopin asks for the right hand to play a triple-dotted minim (lasting 15 semiquavers) simultaneously with the first left-hand semiquaver, then one semiquaver simultaneously with the 16th left-hand semiquaver.