Lesson 8: Sixteenth Notes

In Lesson 4 we learned how to subdivide the beat into two equal parts, creating eighth notes. In this lesson we will subdivide the beat into four equal parts, using sixteenth notes.

How to Write Sixteenth Notes

When sixteenth notes occur by themselves they look similar to eighth notes, but they have two flags instead of one.

How to Count Sixteenth Notes

When sixteenth notes occur in groups of four, they are connected at the end of their stems by two beams, as shown in the example below. When we count rhythms with sixteenth notes, the common words used for the subdivisions are “one e and a.” The letter e is pronounced just like the name of the letter, or how it would be pronounced saying the word “teeth.” The letter a is pronounced like the syllable “uh.”

Here is a review of the relative lengths of the note values covered so far in Lessons 1 through 7, as well as their relation to sixteenth notes.

1 quarter note = 4 sixteenth notes

1 eighth note = 1/2 of a quarter note = 2 sixteenth notes

1 dotted quarter note = 1 quarter note tied to 1 eighth note = 6 sixteenth notes

1 half note = 2 quarter notes = 8 sixteenth notes

1 dotted half note = 3 quarter notes = 12 sixteenth notes

1 whole note = 4 quarter notes = 16 sixteenth notes

Whenever you have patterns with sixteenth notes, subdivide every beat by counting “e and a” after every beat. Doing so will insure that you maintain a steady tempo and perform the rhythms accurately. This lesson of The Fundamentals of Rhythm introduces sixteenth notes in groups of four. In the next two lessons we will cover different groupings of sixteenth notes and sixteenth rests.

A good way to learn how to accurately play sixteenth notes is to start out with a quadruple subdivision metronome. Once you feel comfortable using the quadruple subdivision metronome, use the duple subdivision metronome, and once you feel comfortable with that one, use the standard metronome that clicks once for every beat.

Learn how to play sixteenth note groupings and dotted eighth notes in Lesson 9.

Write your own rhythms and music compositions! Get free blank staff paper at www.music-paper.com.

Get the Book

Fundamentals of Rhythm book

If you would like all of this information in book format so that you can put it on your music stand and practice it wherever you go, get The Fundamentals of Rhythm, by Kyle Coughlin. The book includes all of the lesson information and practice exercises found on the website.

Use MetronomeBot for a fun online metronome!

The online metronome that counts the beat, subdivides, and offers encouraging practice tips.

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