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In music, a note head is the elliptical part of a note. Noteheads may be coloured completely black or white, indicating the note value (i.e., rhythmic duration). In a whole note, the note head is the only component of the note. Shorter note values attach a stem to the note head, and possibly beams or flags. The longer double whole note can be written with vertical lines surrounding it, two attached note heads, or a rectangular note head.
Note heads ultimately derive from the neumes used to notate Gregorian chant. The punctum, seen at right, is the simplest of the shapes and most clearly anticipates the modern note head. When placed on a clef, the position of a note head indicated the relative frequency of a note. The development of different colors of note heads, and the use of it to indicate rhythmic values, was the use of white mensural notation, adopted around 1450. Fully modern use of note heads to indicate their current values began in the 17th century.