An eighth note (in the US and Canada) or a quaver (other English-speaking countries) is a musical note played for one eighth the duration of a whole note, hence the name.
Eighth notes are notated with an oval, filled-in note head and a straight note stem with one 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 a eighth note and beamed pair of eighth notes respectively. The characters are inherited from the early-1980s code page 437, where they have codes 13 and 14 respectively.
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 "part") 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 sixteenth notes (or thirty-second notes, etc.) are next to each other, the stems may be connected with a beam rather than a flag, like the notes in Figure 2.
Quavers in 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8 are beamed 3 quavers at a time.
The word quaver comes from the now archaic use of the verb to quaver meaning to sing in trills. The term eighth note is a translation of German Achtelnote.
The note derives from the fusa of mensural notation; however, fusa is the modern Spanish and Portuguese name for the thirty-second note.
The names of this note (and rest) in European languages vary greatly:
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.
In popular culture
In the climactic ending of the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, quavers and semi-quavers are mentioned while trying to communicate with aliens using basic tonal vocabulary.
Longa · Double whole note (breve) · Whole note (semibreve) · Half note (minim) · Quarter note (crotchet) · Eighth note (quaver) · Sixteenth note (semiquaver) · Thirty-second note (demisemiquaver) · Sixty-fourth note (hemidemisemiquaver) · Hundred twenty-eighth note (semihemidemisemiquaver)
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