A quarter note (American) or crotchet (British) is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note (or semibreve). Some people will say that a crotchet is one beat, however, this is incorrect, as a beat is decided by what time signature the music is in. Quarter notes are notated with a filled-in oval note head and a straight, flagless stem. The stem usually points upwards if it is below the middle line of the stave or downwards if it is on or above the middle line. However, the stem direction may differentiate more than one part. The head of the note also reverses its orientation in relation to the stem. (See image.)
In Unicode, the symbol is U+2669 (♩).
A related value is the quarter rest (or crotchet rest). It denotes a silence of the same duration as a quarter note. It typically appears as the symbol and occasionally as the older symbol .
The note derives from the semiminima of mensural notation. The word crotchet comes from Old French crochet, meaning 'little hook', diminutive of croc, 'hook', because of the hook used on the note in black notation. However, because the hook appeared on the eighth note (or quaver) in the later white notation, the modern French term croche refers to an eighth note.
It is played quicker than a minim and slower than a quaver. It is one beat in a bar of 4/4. The term quarter note is a calque (loan translation) of the German term Viertelnote. The names of this note (and rest) in most languages are calqued from the same source:
The French and Spanish names for the note (both meaning "black") derive from the fact that the semiminima was the longest note to be colored in mensural white notation, which is true as well of the modern form.
The Greek and Chinese names mean "quarter" (for the note) and "quarter's pause" (for the rest). In Greek, all music rests are called "pauses."
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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