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Reading rhythm, part 9: rests

Part of a 12-part course on reading rhythm.

In part 2, I promised to explain the 2nd column of this chart (click the image to download the PDF):

A rest is a symbol that tells you not to play anything for a certain period of time. So a 1-beat rest tells you not to play anything for 1 beat, a 2-beat rest tells you not to play anything for 2 beats, etc.

We can actually work out a lot of the symbols for rests by studying scores, just as we worked out a lot of notes by studying “Ode to Joy”:

Sadly the symbols for rests don’t follow a semi-intuitive pattern like notes do, apart from 18-, 116-, and 132-note rests adding tails, just like 18-, 116-, and 132-notes. Apart from those, you’re just going to have to learn them.

There’s one other thing you need to learn that’s not in the chart: the symbol for a 4-beat rest is also the symbol for a bar-long rest, even if the bar is something other 4 beats long:

Dance of the Hours bar 1 The Swan bar 1

Next we’ll use your knowledge of rests to understand staccato notes.