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Augmentation dots and ties
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Augmentation Dots and Ties

Sometimes we want to increase the value of a note or rest in a piece of music. That’s when augmentation dots and ties come in handy. A dot or an augmentation dot increases the value of a note or rest by half of its original value.

Notes With Augmentation Dots

When we place an augmentation dot after a note, we call that note a dotted note. For example, let’s say we have a whole note and we want to increase its value, duration. As you know so far, a whole note lasts four beats. When we place an augmentation dot after it, it will last six beats. In other words, its original value (four beats) plus half of its value (two beats). Let’s have a look at a figure that visualizes the values of dotted notes.

Notes with augmentation dots
Dotted Notes

There is a practice about how to place augmentation dots in a musical staff. If the note head of a dotted note is in a space of a musical staff, we place the augmentation dot to the right of the note in the same space. If the note head of a dotted note is on a line of a musical staff,  we place the augmentation dot in the space above.

Rests With Augmentation Dots

Just like notes, we can add augmentation dots to rests too. When we place an augmentation dot after a rest, we call that rest a dotted rest. The same logic applies to them. Let’s have a look at a figure that visualizes the values of dotted notes.

Rests with augmentation dots
Dotted Rests

More Augmentation Dots

Rarely, when we want to increase the value of a note further, we place another one the first augmentation dot. That second augmentation dot increases the dotted note’s value by half of the added value of the first augmentation dot. In other words, the original value of the note plus half of its value plus a quarter of its value. For example, let’s say we put two augmentation dots after a whole note. Its new value would be seven beats. How? Its original value (4 beats) plus half of its value (2 beats) plus a quarter of its value (1 beat) That makes seven beats. The more dots we add, the further values are added. But they are rare.

Augmentation Dots versus Staccatos

Note that there is another type of a dot in musical notation. We use it for staccato articulation and we place it above or below notes, not after them. So that we can easily tell which one is an augmentation dot or not. You will learn about staccato articulation later.

Ties

Another way of increasing the value of notes is tying them together. A tie can combine the duration of two or more notes. When we tie notes, we call them tied notes. Then they will sound as one sustained note instead of two separate notes. However, there is one thing to remember here. The tied notes should be of the same pitch and successive. But they don’t need to have same note values. We can tie notes with different values.

For example, let’s say we want to tie two successive quarter notes of the same pitch. As you know already, each of them lasts one beat. We play or sing the first one, then increase its value in the amount of the second one. It sounds like we play or sing a sustained note of two beats.

Ties are only for combining musical notes. So we can’t combine rests with ties. Also as a practice, when we tie two notes, we tie and stems on the opposite sides of the note head.

Notes with a tie
Tied notes

In this example, when we tie a whole note and half note like this, it lasts six beats. Notice that the tie is on the opposite side of the half note’s stem.

Ties versus slurs

There is another curved line in musical notation. We call it a slur. So don’t confuse the ties here with slurs. We use ties for increasing duration of notes, while we use slurs for indicating that those notes with slurs should be played without separation. In other words, we should play them with legato articulation. You will learn about them later.

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An Insight Into Music Theory by Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı is a pianist, composer, field recordist, sound designer, and author of sound and music-related books. All his life revolves around nature, art, books, and of course coffee. In his opinion, knowledge grows when shared. It is why, in his spare time, he likes to share what he learns and knows with others.

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Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı is a pianist, composer, field recordist, sound designer, and author of sound and music-related books. All his life revolves around nature, art, books, and of course coffee. In his opinion, knowledge grows when shared. It is why, in his spare time, he likes to share what he learns and knows with others.

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