In music, a 16th note (American) or semiquaver (British) is a note played for half the duration of an eighth note (quaver), hence the name. It is the equivalent of the semifusa in mensural notation, first found in 15th-century notation (Morehen and Rastall 2001).
Sixteenth notes are notated with an oval, filled-in note head and a straight note stem with two flags. (see Figure 1). A corresponding symbol is the 16th rest (or semiquaver rest), which denotes a silence for the same duration. As with all notes with stems, 16th 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 16th notes or eighth notes (or 32nd 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 16th notes and eighth notes. Similar rules apply to smaller divisions such as 32nd notes (demisemiquavers) and 64th notes (hemidemisemiquavers).
In Unicode, U+266C (♬) is a pair of beamed semiquavers.
The note derives from the semifusa in mensural notation. However, semifusa also designates the modern 64th note in Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese.
The name of this note (and rest) in European languages varies greatly:
|Language||note name||rest name|
|Catalan||semicorxera||silenci de semicorxera|
|Dutch||zestiende noot||zestiende rust|
|Greek||δέκατο έκτο||παύση δεκάτου έκτου|
|Italian||semicroma||pausa di semicroma|
|French||double-croche||quart de soupir|
|Portuguese||semicolcheia||pausa de semicolcheia|
|Romanian||şaisprezecime||pauză de şaisprezecime|
|Russian||шестнадцатая нота||шестнадцатая пауза|
|Serbian||šesnaestin(k)a / песнаестин(к)а||šesnaestinska pauza / шеснаестинска пауза|
|Spanish||semicorchea||silencio de semicorchea|
- Morehen, John, and Richard Rastall. 2001. "Semiquaver". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.