How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth?

Posted by: Evan R. Murphy

How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 08:38 PM

Somebody asked me today, “How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth?”

I must admit that I stumbled for a moment before remembering: You shouldn’t encounter a whole note in 2/4 time, since the length of the note would be exceeding that of the measure. Instead you’ll see this written as two half notes tied together.

If by some chance you did encounter a whole note in 2/4, then it would be worth 4 beats. (Unless you can tell that the engraver was confused and thought that a whole note simply takes up a “whole” measure, in which case hold it for 2 beats.)

Great ice breaker for musician acquaintances! smile

Originally posted at http://sightreadingmastery.com/blog/how-many-beats-is-a-whole-note-in-24-worth, thought some here would enjoy.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 09:08 PM

I'd say you can play it however you want, because the composer or somebody didn't know math and so the note values don't mean anything. ha
Posted by: Vid

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 09:15 PM

Its like dividing by zero. tiki
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 09:24 PM

....or maybe one of these: ha

Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 09:54 PM

Obviously it cannot be a whole note... Maybe it is a misprint? (Or the composer's math is really bad, but I cannot imagine anyone who writes music not understanding basic concepts like that, so it is probably a misprint... smile )
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 10:10 PM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
Obviously it cannot be a whole note... Maybe it is a misprint? (Or the composer's math is really bad, but I cannot imagine anyone who writes music not understanding basic concepts like that, so it is probably a misprint... smile )

I think Beethoven has a thing or two that doesn't add up! ha

(Like, some of that weird stuff in Op. 110.)
Posted by: mahermusic

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 10:29 PM

WHereas you CAN (and often do) see a whole REST in something other than common time, seeing a whole NOTE in 2/4 time would make my bassoonist spit her double reed across the ensemble...
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 10:33 PM

It means somebody needs to proofread before publishing!! Lol.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/09/13 11:32 PM

Maybe the composer is a half-wit. smile
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 05:52 AM

A good lawyer could get the number of beats you're looking for ... though it would cost.
Posted by: debrucey

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 06:21 AM

In some of Rachmaninoff's later works, when he temporarily changes the time signature, he doesn't bother writing it in, he just adds more beats to the bar and expects you to understand what's going on. Particularly in Op. 38 and 39 this happens. Perhaps it is a case of that?
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 10:20 AM

Originally Posted By: debrucey
In some of Rachmaninoff's later works, when he temporarily changes the time signature, he doesn't bother writing it in, he just adds more beats to the bar and expects you to understand what's going on. Particularly in Op. 38 and 39 this happens. Perhaps it is a case of that?


I looked at the scores, and you're right, he does things like that.

I think Alkan does that at some points, too crazy
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 11:34 AM

I hope people realize we're not talking about an actual piece. The original post is simply an idle musing from a blog selling a sight-reading service. There is no answer. (Nor is there really any philosophical point to be made about the practice of engraving.)
Posted by: Evan R. Murphy

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 12:14 PM

To put it cynically. I don't know if we're talking about an actual piece of music because the person who asked me didn't say. (They contacted me through the live chat on my website and left before answering that question, so who knows if they were asking in earnest or trolling or what.)

The interesting point to me is mahermusic's about the difference between whole note and whole rest lengths; it's likely to trip up beginners that they don't work the same way.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 12:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: debrucey
In some of Rachmaninoff's later works, when he temporarily changes the time signature, he doesn't bother writing it in, he just adds more beats to the bar and expects you to understand what's going on. Particularly in Op. 38 and 39 this happens....
I looked at the scores, and you're right, he does things lie that.

I think Alkan does that at some points, too crazy

Cool! cool
How many people knew that.....I sure never did.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 04:34 PM

It wouldn't work, too little beats in the measure. Unless its at the end then it doesn't really matter that much I guess. Supposed if you did see it, would it be connected by a tie into the next bar?
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 07:10 PM

this reminds me of that story about a famous pianist being asked by this lady from the audience after the concert if he would be so kind as to play a 16th note for her.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 07:41 PM

Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
[...]Unless its at the end then it doesn't really matter that much I guess. Supposed if you did see it, would it be connected by a tie into the next bar?


Of course it still matters. It would have to be to half-notes tied over two measures.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/10/13 07:56 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
[...]Unless its at the end then it doesn't really matter that much I guess. Supposed if you did see it, would it be connected by a tie into the next bar?


Of course it still matters. It would have to be to half-notes tied over two measures.


Yes, that is what Sibelius (the notation program) automatically does for example (but of course it should be pretty obvious).
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/11/13 02:54 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
[...]Unless its at the end then it doesn't really matter that much I guess. Supposed if you did see it, would it be connected by a tie into the next bar?


Of course it still matters. It would have to be to half-notes tied over two measures.


Yes, that is what Sibelius (the notation program) automatically does for example (but of course it should be pretty obvious).


Amen
Posted by: wr

Re: How many beats is a whole note in 2/4 worth? - 01/11/13 07:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I hope people realize we're not talking about an actual piece.


I think you should sue, since they are clearly ripping off a piece of yours. smile