Grade One Music Theory - Lesson 5: Time Names of the Rests (UK Version)
Click here to see this page with the note names in American English
In music theory, rests are symbols which tell you to stop playing, and how long to stop for. Rests come in different shapes depending on how long they last for, just like notes do. Rests take the same names as the notes of the same length.
1 beat = crotchet rest.
The crotchet rest is a kind of squiggle which isn’t easy to draw nicely. If you find it difficult, you might prefer to use another version, which looks like this.
1/2 beat = quaver rest.
The quaver rest looks a bit like a number 7, with a circle at its tip. If you look again at the “easy” crotchet rest, you’ll notice that it is, in fact, a back-to-front quaver rest.
1/4 beat = semiquaver rest.
The semiquaver rest looks a lot like the quaver rest, but it’s got 2 tails, just like the semiquaver note has.
2 beats = minim rest.
The minim rest is a small, coloured-in block. The minim rest sits on the middle line of the staff.
4 beats = semibreve rest.
The semibreve rest is the same size block as the minim rest, but its position is different - it hangs off the second line from the top.
If you find it hard to remember the positions of the 2 and 4 beat rests, remember that that 4 is a higher number than 2, so a 4-beat rest is higher up the staff than a 2 beat rest.
Semibreve rests are also used as “whole bar” rests. This means that the whole bar should be silent, even if the bar doesn’t contain exactly 4 beats.