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What is A Breve in Music? | Strong Fundamentals of Music (2023)

Want to know what a Breve is? Check out our article that describes what the symbol is.

Introduction to Breve

A breve is a musical notation symbol used to indicate the duration of a note. It is a double whole note, also known as a double note, and is used to represent a very long duration in music. The breve is an elongated oval shape, similar to a whole note, but with a thicker stem that extends vertically from the center of the oval. The stem may be open or closed, depending on the style of notation.

There are 3 examples of how the Breve symbol looks

History

The breve has its origins in medieval music notation and was used to indicate a long note value that lasted for several beats or even an entire measure. In modern music notation, the breve is rarely used and is typically reserved for very slow or sustained passages of music.

The breve is typically used in conjunction with other note values to indicate relative durations. For example, a breve followed by a whole note would indicate that the whole note should last for half the duration of the breve. Similarly, a breve followed by a half note would indicate that the half note should last for a quarter of the duration of the breve.

In terms of musical interpretation, the breve is often used to indicate a sustained or held note. It can be used to create a sense of stillness or prolonged tension in the music, adding a sense of calm or serenity. The length of the breve allows for extended notes that can create a sense of spaciousness or expansiveness in the music, giving the performer and listener a moment to pause and reflect.

In some notational systems, the breve is used to indicate a rest rather than a note. A breve rest is a rest symbol that is similar in shape to the breve note, but is placed on the musical staff to indicate a silent or paused duration of time. Like the breve note, the breve rest is also rarely used in modern music notation, and other rest symbols such as whole rests or half rests are more commonly used.

It’s worth noting that the use of the breve in modern music notation can vary depending on the style, genre, and time period of the music. In some contemporary musical genres, such as jazz or popular music, the breve may not be used at all, as these styles often rely on more simplified and standardized forms of notation.

Conclusion

The breve is a musical notation symbol used to indicate a long duration or sustained note. It is a double whole note and is rarely used in modern music notation, but can still be found in certain contexts, particularly in more traditional or classical styles of music. The breve is typically used to indicate a sustained or held note, adding a sense of stillness or tension to the music. While its usage may be limited in modern music, it remains an important element in understanding historical music notation and its evolution over time.

Additional Reading

Now that you’ve learned about a Breve, feel free to check out our other articles.

Do you also use orchestral strings or woodwinds instruments in your mixes? Read our article about the 5 of the best Cello VSTs and 3 Tips for success in music buinsess.

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Listen to our ensembles: Breve Orchestra, Breve Music Ensemble, Breve Low Brass Ensemble, Breve Woodwind Ensemble, and Jermaine Harris on Spotify.

Breve Music Studios publishes music for Breve Orchestra, Breve Low Brass Ensemble, Breve Music Ensemble, and Breve Woodwind Ensemble
Breve Music Studios publishes music for Breve Orchestra, Breve Low Brass Ensemble, Breve Music Ensemble, and Breve Woodwind Ensemble

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