What are the French terms for English rhythmic values, singular and plural, such as:

sixteenth notes; eighth notes; quarter notes; half notes; and, whole notes?

1 Answer 1


Plural mark is indicated between parenthesis


A “note” is “une note”, plural “des notes”.

  • breve/carrée Breve: carrée(s) n.f. (seldom used, I just discovered it)
  • semibreve/ronde Semibreve (whole note): ronde(s) n.f.
  • minim/blanche Minim (half note): blanche(s) n.f
  • crotchet/noire Crotchet (quarter note): noire(s) n.f.
  • quaver/croche Quaver (eight note): croche(s) n.f.
  • semiquaver/double croche Semiquaver (sixteenth note): double(s) croche(s) n.f.
  • demisemiquaver/triple croche Demisemiquaver (32nd note): triple(s) croche(s) n.f.
  • Hemidemisemiquaver (64th note): quadruple(s) croche(s) n.f.

And so on, quintuple(s) croche(s), sextuple(s) croche(s), …

In “double croche”, “triple croche”, etc., the term “croche” is often dropped if it already appeared in the same rhythm. “A dotted quaver—semiquaver”, e.g., is referred to as “une croche pointée-double”, seldom as “une croche pointée-double croche”.


A “rest” is “un silence”, plural “des silences”.

  • Breve rest: double(s) pause(s) n.f. or bâton(s) de pause n.m.
  • semibreve rest/pause Semibreve rest (whole rest): pause(s) n.f.
  • minim rest/demi-pause Minim rest (half rest): demi-pause(s) n.f.
  • crotchet rest/soupir Crotchet rest (quarter rest): soupir(s) n.m.
  • quaver rest/demi-soupir Quaver rest (eight rest): demi-soupir(s) n.m.
  • semiquaver rest/quart de soupir Semiquaver rest (sixteenth rest): quart(s) de soupir n.m.
  • demisemiquaver rest/huitième de soupir Demisemiquaver rest (32nd rest): huitième(s) de soupir n.m.
  • Hemidemisemiquaver rest (64th rest): seizième(s) de soupir n.m.

And so on, trente-deuxième(s) de soupir, soixante-quatrième(s) de soupir, …


There is no general term to designate a tuplet. Tuplet, in french, are all masculine.

  • Duplet: duolet(s) n.m.
  • Triplet: triolet(s) n.m.
  • Quadruplet: quartolet(s) n.m.
  • Quintuplet: quintolet(s) n.m.
  • Sextuplet (or whatever term you prefer): sextolet(s) n.m.
  • Septuplets: septolet(s) n.m.

“Triplet quavers” are “un triolet de noires”.

Dotted notes

The dot itself is called “point (de prolongation)”. A “double dot” is “un double point”; “triple dote”, “triple point”.

A “dotted crotchet” is a “noire pointée”; “double pointed semibreve” is “blanche double-pointée”; “triple-dotted breve” would be “ronde triple-pointée”.

  • 1
    In my vision, "une note" = "un temps" = "une noire". But i don't know the english system... (While "une ronde" is worth "quatre temps"). That's what I learned in France...
    – mveroone
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 9:06
  • “Une note” can design only a pitch or the symbol representing pitch and rhythm; in the second case, "une note” does need to last exactly “un temps” (one beat) nor “une noire”. Moreover, “une noire” does not always correspond to “un temps”; e.g., in a 2/2 or 6/8 metre. In the American system, the reference duration is the “whole note” (semibreve in Br.E.), which I guess has roots in former usage and make sense from a metre notation p.o.v. After all, a 4/4 measure lasts a semibreve, and 4/4 = 1.
    – Édouard
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 9:38
  • It may be intresting to link the name to the symbol then, in order to avoid misunderstandings like I did reading your post.
    – mveroone
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 9:44
  • 1
    Although I wouldn’t consider it a solid reference, the Lilypond glossary remains very practical.
    – Édouard
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 16:58
  • 1
    I never heard of it, nor can find any reference anywhere else. It is not even in the Lilypond glossary. “n-olet” (pronounce the n as the letter) make sense to generalise to any n (“17-olet”), but “nolet”? I’d need more convincing.
    – Édouard
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 9:11

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