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An eighth note (American) or a quaver (British) is a musical note played for half the value of a quarter note (crotchet) and twice that of the sixteenth note (semiquaver), which amounts to one quarter the duration of a half note (minim), one eighth the duration of whole note (semibreve), one sixteenth the duration of a double whole note (breve), and one thirty-second the duration of a longa, hence the name. It is the equivalent of the fusa in mensural notation (Morehen and Rastell 2001)
Eighth notes are notated with an oval, filled-in note head and a straight note stem with one flag note flag (see Figure 1). A related symbol is the eighth rest (or quaver rest), which denotes a silence for the same duration.
In unicode, the symbols U+266A (♪) and U+266B (♫) are an eighth note and beamed pair of eighth notes respectively. The former is inherited from the early 1980s code page 437, where it has code 13.
As with all notes with stems, the general rule is that eighth 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. Alternatively, stems are used to indicate voicing or parts; all stems for the upper voice's notes (or "parts") are drawn facing up, regardless of their position on the staff. Similarly, stems for the next lower part's notes are down facing down. This makes the voices/parts clear to the player and singer.
Flags are always on the right side of the stem, and curve to the right. On stems facing up, the flag starts at the top and curves down; for downward facing stems, the flags start at the bottom of the stem and curve up. When multiple eighth notes or 16th notes (or 32nd notes, etc.) are next to each other, the stems may be connected with a beam rather than a flag, as shown in Figure 2. Its rhythm syllable is 'ti'.'
Eighth notes in 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8 are beamed three eighth notes at a time.
The word 'quaver' comes from the now archaic use of the verb to quaver meaning to sing in trills.
The names of this note (and rest) in many languages vary greatly:
|Language||note name||rest name|
|Catalan||corxera||silenci de corxera|
|Dutch||achtste noot||achtste rust|
|Italian||croma||pausa di croma|
|Portuguese||colcheia||pausa de colcheia|
|Russian||восьмая нота||восьмая пауза|
|Serbian||осмин(к)а/osmin(k)a||осминска пауза/osminska pauza|
|Spanish||corchea||silencio de corchea|
|Turkish||sekizlik nota||sekizlik es|
The French name, croche is from the same source as crotchet, the British name for the quarter note. The name derives from crochata ("hooked"), to apply to the flags of the semiminima (in white notation) and fusa (in black notation) in mensural notation; thus the name came to be used for different notes.
- Morehen, John, and Richard Rastall. 2001. "Quaver". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.