Half note

This article is about the musical note. For the jazz club, see Half Note Club.
Figure 1: A half note with stem facing up, a half note with stem facing down, and a half rest
Whole note Half note Quarter note Eighth note Sixteenth note Thirty-second note
Comparison of duple note values (whole note = 2×half note, etc.)

In music, a half note (American) or minim (British) is a note played for half the duration of a whole note (or semibreve) and twice the duration of a quarter note (or crotchet). It was given its Latin name (minim, meaning "least or smallest") because it was the shortest of the five note values used in early medieval music notation (Morehen and Rastall 2001). In time signatures with 4 as the bottom number, such as 4/4 or 3/4 time, the half note is two beats long. However, when 2 is the bottom number (including alla breve), the half note is one beat long.

Half notes are notated with a hollow oval note head (like a whole note) and a straight note stem with no flags (like a quarter note; see Figure 1). The half rest (or minim rest) denotes a silence for the same duration. Half rests are drawn as filled-in rectangles sitting on top of the middle line of the musical staff. As with all notes with stems, half notes are drawn with stems to the right of the note head, facing up, when they are below the middle line of the staff (on or below the middle line for vocal notation). When they are on or above the middle line (or for vocal notation, just when they are above this line), they are drawn with stems on the left of the note head, facing down.

The American term half note is a 19th-century loan translation of German halbe Note.

The names of this note (and rest) in other languages vary:

Language note name rest name
Arabic البيضاء سكتة البيضاء
Catalan blanca silenci de blanca
Chinese 二分音符 (pinyin: èrfēn yīnfú) 二分休止符 (pinyin: èrfēn xiūzhǐfú)
Czech půlová nota půlová pauza
Danish halvnode halvnodepause
Dutch halve noot halve rust
Esperanto duona noto duona paŭzo
French blanche demi-pause
German halbe Note halbe Pause
Greek imisi/miso (ήμισι/μισό) pafsi imiseos/pafsi misou (παύση ημίσεος/παύση μισού)
Italian minima pausa di minima
Japanese 2分音符 (nibun onpu) 2分休符 (nibun kyūfu)
Korean 2분음표(二分音標 ibun eumpyo) 2분쉼표(二分-標 ibun swimpyo)
Norwegian halvnote halvpause
Persian سفید سکوت سفید
Polish półnuta pauza półnutowa
Portuguese mínima pausa de mínima
Russian половинная нота половинная пауза
Serbian polovin(k)a / половин(к)а polovinska pauza / половинска пауза
Spanish blanca silencio de blanca
Swedish halvnot halvnotspaus / halvpaus
Thai โน๊ตตัวขาว ตัวหยุดตัวขาว

The Catalan, French and Spanish names for the note (all meaning "white") derive from the fact that the minima was the shortest unfilled note in mensural white notation, which is true as well of the modern form. The form in the earlier black notation resembles the modern quarter note (crotchet). The Greek, Chinese, Japanese and Korean names mean "half" and in Greek, both the modern word (miso – μισό) and the older (imisi – ήμισι) are used. For the rest, the word "pafsi" (παύση) is used; this means "pause".

See also


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