The Music Note Tree (Or Pyramid)

The music note tree is a great visual way to understand the relationship between all the different types of music notes. Getting to grips with it will help you when learning about note values and time signatures.

In this post I’ll share what the music note tree is as well as how we use to it visualise the time values of notes. Let’s take a look.

What is the music note tree?

The music note tree is a visual representation of how note values work. You might also see it referred to as a rhythm tree or a note pyramid but these are all the same thing.

Here is the music note tree drawn out (there’s a US note value one below).

The music note tree (UK terminology)
Music note tree (US terminology)

It starts with a semibreve (whole note) at the top which can be split into two minims (half notes). Two minims are equal to one semibreve which is why they’re called half notes as they’re a half of a whole note.

Then each minim can be split into two crotchets (quarter notes). Two crotchets are equal to one minim and four crotchets are equal to one semibreve (which is why they’re called quarter notes as they’re a quarter of a whole note).

Then each crotchet can be split into two quavers (eighth notes). Two quavers are equal to one crotchet, or four quavers are equal to one minim, or eight quavers are equal to one semibreve (which is why they’re called eighth notes as they’re an eighth of a whole note).

Then each quaver can be split into two semiquavers (sixteenth notes). Two semiquavers are equal to one quaver, or four semiquavers are equal to one crotchet, or eight semiquavers are equal to one minim, or sixteen semiquavers are equal to one semibreve (which is why they’re called sixteenth notes).

One thing to mention is that you don’t have to use a crotchet (quarter note) to represent one beat. This is common as most time signatures that beginners start by learning are those with a number four as their bottom number which represents a crotchet beat.

But you could use any note to represent one beat, for time signatures with a number two as their bottom number then a minim (half note) would represent one beat. Or for time signatures with a number eight as their bottom number a dotted crotchet would represent one beat. Check out my post on how time signatures here for to learn more.

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