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Rests and rest values
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Rests and Rest Values

We compose music by arranging sounds and silences. While notes represent musical sounds, rests represent silences. A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music. Just like notes, rests have values to indicate the relative duration of them. Rest values share the same duration with note values. So let’s say we have a quarter note and quarter rest. Both last the same amount of time. But of course, they are not same. The note represents sound while the rest represent silence. Rest values are as important as note values.

Rest values

Whole Rest (Semibreve)

Whole Rest
A whole rest

Whole rest (Semibreve) lasts four beats. In 4/4 time a whole rest lasts an entire measure. We can place maximum one whole rest per measure. Whole rests hang under the second line from the top of a musical staff.

Half Rest (Minim)

Half Rest
A half rest

Half rest (Minim) lasts two beats. In 4/4 time a half rest lasts half of the measure. We can place maximum two half rests per measure. This rest sits on the middle line of a musical staff.

Quarter Rest (Crotchet)

Quarter Rest
A quarter rest

Quarter rest (Crotchet) lasts one beat. In 4/4 time a quarter rest lasts a quarter of the measure. We can place maximum four quarter rests per measure.

Eighth Rest (Quaver)

Eighth Rest
An eighth rest

It lasts half a beat. In 4/4 time we can place maximum eight of them per measure.  This rest has one flag.

Sixteenth Rest (Semiquaver)

Sixteenth Rest
A sixteenth rest

Sixteenth rest (called a semiquaver in the U.K.) lasts quarter a beat. In 4/4 time we can place maximum sixteen of them per measure. Just like notes, rests have flags too. eighth rest has one, sixteenth rest has two, thirty-second rest has three and so on.  Although there are longer rests than a whole rest (such as double whole (breve) rest which lasts eight beats) and shorter rests than a sixteenth rest (such as thirty-second rest, sixty-fourth rest etc.) most common rest values are these.

Rest Values Tree

The logic behind note values and rest values are same. Once you understand the logic behind note values you can understand rests too. As you may notice, a whole rest lasts two times longer than a half rest. A half rest lasts two times longer than a quarter rest. A quarter rest lasts two times longer than an eighth rest. An eighth rest lasts two times longer than a sixteenth rest. So when you come across a thirty-second rest, you can easily figure out that it will last half of a sixteenth rest. It’s simple math. The same logic applies to all other rest values. We can represent this logic in a tree-like chart called rest values tree.

Rest Values Tree
Rest Values Tree

Comparison Of Note Values and Rest Values

Now, let’s compare note values and rest values to see which note value has the same duration of which rest value.

Note and Rest Values
Note and Rest Values

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An Insight Into Music Theory by Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı is a pianist, composer, field recordist, sound designer, and author of sound and music-related books. All his life revolves around nature, art, books, and of course coffee. In his opinion, knowledge grows when shared. It is why, in his spare time, he likes to share what he learns and knows with others.

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Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı is a pianist, composer, field recordist, sound designer, and author of sound and music-related books. All his life revolves around nature, art, books, and of course coffee. In his opinion, knowledge grows when shared. It is why, in his spare time, he likes to share what he learns and knows with others.

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