Minim

« Back to Dictionary Index

A note equal in duration to the half of a semibreve and divisible into to crotchets or four quavers.

The minim derives its name from the fact that, until the invention of the crotchet, it was the shortest note in use.

We first find it mentioned early in the 14th century by Joannes de Muris; though Morely says it was employed by Philippus de Vitriaco, who flourished during the latter half of the 13th century.

Its form has undergone but little change in modern times. It was always an open note with a tail. Formerly its head was lozenge shaped, and its tail; turned always upwards; now the head is round, inclining to oval, and the tail may turn either upwards or downwards.

In ancient music the minim was always imperfect; that is to say, it was divisible into two crotchets only, and not into three. As time progressed, a quasi-exception to this rule was afforded by the Hemiolia minor; but it was never used in ligature.

The minim rest resembles that of the semibreve, except that it is placed above the line instead of below it – a peculiarity which is observed in the oldest MSS. In which minims occur.

« Back to Dictionary Index