Whole note

Figure 1. A whole note and a whole rest.
Whole noteHalf noteQuarter noteEighth noteSixteenth noteThirty-second note
Comparison of duple note values (whole note = 2×half note, etc.)
Drum pattern, quarter notes on bass and snare,
accompanied by ride patterns of various
duple lengths from whole note to 128th (all at quarter note=60)
Spoken content iconAbout this sound1About this sound2About this sound4About this sound8
About this sound16About this sound32About this sound64About this sound128

In music, a whole note (American) or semibreve (British) is a note represented by a hollow oval note head and no note stem. Its length is equal to four beats in 4
4
time, that is the whole 4
4
measure (or bar). Most other notes are fractions of the whole note (e.g., half notes and quarter notes are played for one half and one quarter the duration of the whole note, respectively).

The symbol is first found in music notation from the late thirteenth century, and its British name derives from the semibrevis of mensural notation. The whole note and whole rest may also be used in music of free rhythm, such as Anglican chant, to denote a whole measure.

Description

A whole note (American) or semibreve (British) is a musical note represented by a hollow oval note head—like a half note (or minim)—and no note stem (see Figure 1). Its length is equal to four beats in 4
4
time, that is the whole 4
4
measure (or bar). Most other notes are fractions of the whole note. Half notes last for one half the duration of the whole note, quarter notes (or crotchets) last for one quarter the duration, and a double whole note (or breve, hence the British name semibreve) lasts twice as long as a whole note.

A related symbol is the whole rest (or semibreve rest). It usually applies for an entire measure, but may occasionally mean a rest for the duration of a whole note, in longer time signatures such as 3
2
or 5
4
. (An entire measure rest is drawn centered within the measure, whereas a rest lasting for a whole note is aligned to where the note would be.) Whole rests are drawn as filled-in rectangles generally hanging under the second line from the top of a musical staff, though they may occasionally be put under a different line (or ledger line) in more complicated polyphonic passages, or when two instruments or vocalists are written on one staff and one is temporarily silent.

The whole note and whole rest may also be used in music of free rhythm, such as Anglican chant, to denote a whole measure, irrespective of the time of that measure. The whole rest can be used this way in almost all or all forms of music.

Other Languages
català: Rodona
Cymraeg: Hannerbrif
Deutsch: Ganze Note
français: Ronde (musique)
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Chhiòn Yîm-fù
한국어: 온음표
italiano: Semibreve
norsk: Helnote
norsk nynorsk: Heilnote
polski: Cała nuta
português: Semibreve
српски / srpski: Цела нота
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Cela nota
svenska: Helnot
Türkçe: Birlik nota
Tiếng Việt: Nốt tròn
粵語: 全音符
中文: 全音符