Anyone fluent in music knows that sheet is a complex writing system that takes months to learn to read.
In drawn fiction, when someone plays an instrument or sings or whistles, the music is "seen" as eighth notes (AKA quavers), regardless of what's being played or sung. Mostly a single eighth note with the stem up, but there can be the occasional pair of eighth notes sharing a flag.
It's so prevalent that many computer character sets include it, including Unicode.
Cartoonists untrained in music love this trope, mostly because an eighth note is immediately and unambiguously recognizable by laity as musical notation. Also, it's one of the most common markings in written melodies.
Video Games tends to also use them in order to represent singing in a work without voice-acting.
Note that it's only an example of this trope if the eighth notes explicitly represent the presence of music in one way or another. Simply being there isn't enough for it to be an example of this trope.
- In Sonic Shuffle, when Chao sings as an attack, eighth notes float from his head.
- In Sonic Lost World, the Magenta Wisp resembles an eighth note. In addition, its Wisp power turns Sonic into one and allows him to climb notation bars as if he's following the bouncy ball.
- The Dingle boss in the remake of The Binding of Isaac whistles to summon mooks. The audio is accompanied visually by a few eighth notes.
- The parrot Pokémon Chatot, normally associated with sound and music, has a head in the shape of an eighth note.
- In addition, music-related attacks such as Sing, Grass Whistle and Perish Song are usually depicted this way.
- Kirby series:
- The jukebox feature of Kirby: Triple Deluxe has eight notes coming from the visible jukebox on the top screen while a piece of in-game music plays (as well as, oddly enough, treble clefs).
- One of the miniboss Mr. Tick-Tock's attacks involve sending eighth notes towards Kirby. Kirby needs to use these notes to attack him if he fights Mr. Tick-Tock without a copy ability. Mr. Tick-Tock is an example of this trope because he gives the Mike ability upon being inhaled (a copy ability that involves Kirby "singing" into three different types of microphones).
- The recurring mike enemy Walky attacks by singing a "tasteless tune" (represented by eighth notes and, more recently, treble clefs) to his opponents.
- In the Drawn series of adventure games, a couple of puzzles require you to either collect, or strike in sequence, metal eighth-note pieces to access new areas that have a musical motif.
- The jukebox tab within the options menu of Locomotion is represented by four eighth notes on a score.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask plays with this trope by having the Zora offspring be the eighth notes. More specifically, they arrange themselves in a certain way, then pose as eighth notes (Zora offspring resembles tadpoles in terms of appearance) so that they could teach Link a new song.
- Variation: In Nintendo's Popeye Arcade Game, the second level has Popeye collecting sixteenth notes from Olive Oyl.
- Terraria has the Magical Harp, a weaponized harp that fires projectiles that graphically resemble eighth notes when playing it.
- Everybody Edits has note blocks, which are all eight notes. Granted, it's the only type of note that can be played.
- Ensign Sue Must Die: In Ensign Two: The Wrath of Sue 24, a whistle is represented by a pair of eighth notes sharing a flag.
- When the bard class is introduced in The Legendary Pixel Crew, it is accompanied by several quavers, and one double semiquaver.
- Averted in SWAP Ensemble, in which music is represented with proper notation. If music is not properly represented, it is shown as just the staff rather than as just eighth notes.
- Subverted in the Chuck Jones cartoon "High Note" which has fun anthropomorphizing all the various types of notation (turning a rest sign into a dog, for instance).