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In music, a sixteenth note (American or "German" terminology) or semiquaver (also occasionally demiquaver, British or "classical" terminology) is a note played for one sixteenth the duration of a whole note, hence the name. The semiquaver is half of a quaver which is an eighth note.
Sixteenth notes are notated with an oval, filled-in note head and a straight note stem with two flags. (see Figure 1). A similar symbol is the sixteenth rest (or semiquaver rest), which denotes a silence for the same duration. As with all notes with stems, sixteenth notes are drawn with stems to the right of the notehead, facing up, when they are below the middle line of the musical staff. When they are on or above the middle line, they are drawn with stems on the left of the note head, facing down. Flags are always on the right side of the stem, and curve to the right. On stems facing up, the flags start at the top and curve down; for downward facing stems, the flags start at the bottom of the stem and curve up. When multiple sixteenth notes or eighth notes (or thirty-second notes, etc.) are next to each other, the flags may be connected with a beam, like the notes in Figure 2. Note the similarities in notating sixteenth notes and eighth notes. Similar rules apply to smaller divisions such as thirty-second notes and sixty-fourth notes.
The note derives from the semifusa in mensural notation. However, semifusa also designates the modern sixty-fourth note in Spanish.
The names of this note (and rest) in European languages vary greatly:
- whole note
- half note
- quarter note
- eighth note
- musical notation
- dotted note
- swung eighth