What Are Eighth Rest?

Imagine having a conversation with someone who never pauses to take a breath. The endless stream of words falling from their mouth would probably leave you confused and frankly, annoyed.

The same principle applies to great pieces of music. Rests, or breaks in the sound, are essential to creating an excellent composition.

Of course, not all rests are created equal.

In fact, if you’re new to music, the idea of an eighth rest may sound totally foreign to you.

Never fear, we’ve got you covered with this complete guide to knowing what an eighth rest is.

What Are Rests For?

Besides making music more beautiful and enjoyable to listen to, rests are vital to compositions that involve multiple instruments or performers.

Often in music, one performer or musician will have a period of resting while they are waiting for their particular part to come in.

Having rest notes allows those performers to keep the time of the music and count, and know precisely when to enter with their part.

Rests also serve the purpose of giving emphasis to a specific melody, musical theme, or instrument group by silencing the sound of another.


Remember fractions from your elementary school days?

Well, turns out they are highly relevant to everyday life. This is especially true if you’re a musician.

As you may have gathered from the very name “eighth rest,” rests (as well as all musical notes) are counted in a fraction of a beat.

Different Rests

Whole Rest

The simplest way to look at an eighth rest is to first realize the other rests that exist in music. The longest rest in music is called the whole rest.

This rest has either the standard four beats or, depending on what time the music is in, it possesses the whole length of the measure.

This means if a music is in 3/4 time, the whole rest lasts for three beats, and so on.

Half Rests and Quarter Rests

A half rest is, (you guessed it), two beats.

A quarter rest is the equivalent of one beat in whatever time the piece is written.

An Eighth Rest

If your knowledge of fractions is still sharp from 2nd grade, you can probably guess the beat-value of the eighth rest at this point.

But, just in case: An eighth rest is equivalent to 1/2 of one beat.

Another way to think of it is this: If you have a song written in 4/4 time, one whole rest would equal 8 eighth rests. Both 8 eighth rests and one whole rest would equal one beat in that particular song.

Still confused?

Perhaps the easiest way to think of an eighth rest is to try counting it aloud.

For example:

If you were counting aloud a measure (or bar) of music that was written in 4/4 time and the measure had one eighth rest in it, you would count that eighth rest aloud as “one-and.”

Saying this out loud is a way to break up what would essentially be one beat. One beat is counted aloud as “one.”

Take a Rest

Now that you’re a pro “rester” and better understand an eighth rest, it’s time to start playing some music!

Check out our blog post, the 10 Best Sites for Free Sheet Music Downloads, and start making some music today.

Stephanie Su

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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