Definition and background:
A mark that represents a duration directive in musical notation. When placed to the right of the notehead, the dot indicates that a note should have half again its original duration. For example, if a dot is placed to the right of a half note, the note would then have the duration of a half note plus a quarter note. Dot See dotted note; dotted rhythms.Also [Eng.] dot; [Fr.] point; [Ger.] Punkt; [It.] punto; [Sp.] puntillo.A mark that represents an articulation directive in musical notation. When a dot is placed above or below a notehead, it indicates that the note should be played staccato.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary