An earlier tutorial showed the different values for notes written on the stave, and how they denote how long a note should last. This tutorial follows on from that one, but instead of looking at notes, it looks at the spaces between them - known as "rests".

As the name suggests, a rest is something written on the stave to denote the absence of a note. Because rests can vary on length, there are a range of symbols used to write them, with the symbol used indicating how long the rest should last. Like the symbols used for notes, these are based around the divisions of a whole note, and relate back to the current time signature.

Basic Rest Values

Whole Note (Semibreve)

The symbol for a whole note rest is a simple horizontal block which is written below the middle line of the stave.

Whole Note Rest (Semibreve)

1/2 Note (Minim)

The symbol for a minim rest is similar to that for a semibreve, but it is placed above the middle line of the stave, rather than below it.

Half Note Rest (Minim)

1/4 Note (Crotchet)

The symbol for a crotchet rest is a very distinctive, curving symbol.

Quarter Note Rest (Crotchet)

1/8 Note (Quaver)

This example shows the symbol for a quaver rest. Compare this with the symbols used for a semiquaver and demi-seviquaver, shown below.

Eight Note Rest (Quaver)

1/16 Note (Semiquaver) and Beyond

The symbol for a semiquaver rest is similar to that for a quaver rest, but with an additional mark added. Compare this to the system used for note notation for quavers, semiquavers, etc. where successive divisions have an extra mark on the vertical staff of the note.

Additional marks can be added for smaller intervals, such as demi-semiquavers.

1/32 and 1/63 Notes


That concludes our brief overview of the symbols used for rests. As with the symbols used for notes, take the time to get familar with them as they are an important building block of written music.

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