Semi Quaver / Sixteenth Note

A Semi Quaver

A Semi Quaver (16th Note), pictured above, is a note that lasts for 1/4 of a beat. Semi Quavers are a solid circular note head with a vertical Stem that has two tails coming out of the top. A Semi Quaver written as a cymbal has an 'x' instead of the 'blob'. It is where the note head is positioned on the stave that tells us which part of the kit is played. So if the note head is in the second gap down, it will mean 'play a snare'.

For counting we will compare to the Quaver, which we counted '1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +'. We said we could fit eight Quavers into a bar, with the numbered counts representing each beat of the bar and the '+' counts filled in the notes between.. So if a Semi Quaver lasts 1/4 a beat, logically we can fit twice as many into a bar. Which means we get 16 Semi Quavers in bar. We still want those eight beats represented when we count a Semi Quaver but we now need 4 counts to each beat. To achieve this we add two extra sounds, an 'e' (pronounced 'ee') and a 'a' (pronounced literally 'a'). So to count a full bar of Semi Quavers we get '1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a'.

With sticking you will generally play alternating Right to Left unless otherwise specified. The logic of the strong hand playing 'main beats' continues, with the strong hand now playing on numbered and '+' counts and the weak hand filling in the 'e' and 'a' counts.

The example below shows a bar of music made up entirely of Semi Quavers. Counting and is given underneath the bar.

A Bar Of Semi Quavers

The Stem of a Semi Quaver may be positioned coming up from the note head or coming down depending on it's vertical position in the stave. When it goes up, it will be on the right of the note head. When it goes down it will be on the left. The image below shows a Semi Quaver (16th Note) with the stem pointing down.

Semi Quaver, Downwards Stem

When we get 4 or more Semi Quavers in a row a 'beam is put over the top. In our standard bar of 4/4 Semi Quavers are beamed when there is a group of 4. The images below show how this looks.

4 Joined Semi Quavers


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