Rests

Understand what a rest is

What is a rest?

A 'rest' is quite simply a period of time during a piece of music where there is no pitch. The violinist stays silent for the duration of the 'rest'.

The length of a rest is measured by the number of beats that it lasts for. The symbol for each rest will change according to the duration. There are several unique symbols for different lengths of duration.

In the next section, we will learn the different types of symbol that you may come across, and understand how much time each symbol represents.

Test Your Knowledge: What is a rest?

A rest is a period of . The length of the rest is indicated by the of the symbol. There are lots of different symbols for rests, and each one represents a different . The duration of rests (and notes) is measured by number of 

Learn the different rest symbols

One beat rests

A rest that lasts for one beat is called a quarter note rest (international) or a crotchet rest (UK). It looks like this:

 

 

On a printed musical stave, the crotchet rest will appear like this:

 

Whenever you see this symbol in a piece of music, you should stay silent for exactly one beat of time (at the tempo of the piece you're currently playing).

Two beat rests

A rest that lasts for two beat is called a half note rest (international) or a crotchet rest (UK). It looks like this:

 

On a printed musical stave, the half note rest will appear like this:

Whenever you see this symbol in a piece of music, you should stay silent for exactly two beats of time (at the tempo of the piece you're currently playing).

Four beat rests

A rest that lasts for four beats is called a whole note rest (international) or a semibreve rest (UK). It looks like this:

semibreve rest

On a printed musical stave, the whole note rest will appear like this:

Semibreve Rest

Whenever you see this symbol in a piece of music, you should stay silent for exactly four beats of time (at the tempo of the piece you're currently playing).

There is also another meaning for this symbol. If the whole note rest is the ONLY symbol in a bar, and the time signature is larger than 4/4 (i.e. there are more than four whole beats in the bar), then the duration of the rest is for the whole bar.

Half beat rests

A rest that lasts for half beats is called an 8th note rest (international) or a quaver rest (UK). It looks like this:

PIC

On a printed musical stave, the eighth note rest will appear like this:

PIC

Whenever you see this symbol in a piece of music, you should stay silent for exactly half a beat.

Quarter beat rests

A rest that lasts for half beats is called a 16th note rest (international) or a semi-quaver rest (UK) - because it's half the length of a quaver! It looks like this:

PIC

On a printed musical stave, the 16th note rest will appear like this:

PIC

Whenever you see this symbol in a piece of music, you should stay silent for exactly a quarter of a beat.

Rests shorter than a quarter-beat

Rests shorter than a quarter beat are less common in music notation, but they do exist, and they operate on the same principle.

If you divide a 16th note (semiquaver) in half, you'll get a 32nd note (demisemiquaver). If you divide a 32nd note in half, you'll get a 64th note (hemidemisemiquaver - yes, the UK names are very strange!).

Here's a table of these notes and their names:

*in this example, one beat = one quarter note (crotchet). It *is* possible to measure beats using other note-lengths, but it's most common to measure it in quarters (as we're doing here)

Note Name (USA) Note Names (UK) Symbol Length
16th note Semiquaver PIC 1/4 of a crotchet beat*
32nd note Demisemiquaver PIC 1/8 of a beat
64th note Hemidemisemiquaver PIC 1/16 of a beat

 

Dotted rest symbols (50% extra!)

When you add a 'dot' after a note, you extend the length of the note by an additional 50%.

EXAMPLE WITHOUT DOT | EXAMPLE WITH DOT

This works exactly the same way with rests as it does with notes:

EXAMPLE WITHOUT DOT | EXAMPLE WITH DOT

You can add a dot after any of the 

Untitled drag and drop text question

  • minim rest
  • crotchet rest
  • quarter note rest
  • half note rest

Combine rest symbols to create different time values

How to combine rest

In this section we will practice putting different rest symbols next to each other in order to create rests of different lengths.

For example, if you combine a one-beat (quarter note) rest with