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The image is from a Russian edition of Alexander Goedike's 20 Little Pieces for Beginners (20 маленьких пьес для начинающих), Op. 6, no. 11. Goedike Op. 6, no. 11, mm. 30–35

What do the big bold ones in the middle of the grand staff mean here?

3 Answers 3

24

They indicate one measure of rest. In this context they are redundant. More typically you might see larger numbers denoting 8 or 27 or 132 measures of rest in, say, an instrumental part from an orchestral score. It’s easier to read and more efficient to write than the equivalent number of measures of rest.

In this case, note that in all 20 pieces, these are the only measures in which both hands rest for the entire measure. So the 1s were perhaps meant to clarify that, yes, this was the composer’s intent.

For more on multi-measure rests, see

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  • 1
    I don't think I've ever seen a call for more than 1 measure of rest in a solo piano piece. Or solo-anything really. It kind of only makes sense in the context of multiple instruments to rest for longer than that. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 13:43
  • 1
    @DarrelHoffman 4'33" Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 3:42
  • Some orchestral players get a lot of counting practice!
    – Peter
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 3:43
  • @DawoodibnKareem: Couldn't Cage have just written whole note = 4'33" and called it a day?
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 4:05
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    He could have, but it would have made the rhythm all wrong. Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 4:13
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The big bold number 1's are indicating the number of whole bar rests.

They aren't particularly useful for just 1 bar, but if it was a larger number, the additional bars wouldn't have to be written out explicitly, as the number would say how many bars to rest for - this would save space.

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7

It's just a count for the multi-measure rests (which appear in the middle of the printed bar rather than at its start) above and below that happen to be just a single measure of rest.

The number would make more sense if there were more than a single measure of pause.

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