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On page 177, there seems to be what looks like measures of 8,6,4, etc. I just wanted to check. If there is a clear measure with just a number and a line under it, that means that what that number is, is how many measures there are?

  • As always, Dolmetsch is the Number One place to go for information on music symbols and markings. Since your specific question has been answered, I won't bother posting it again. But do keep that link in mind. Nov 6, 2018 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


Those are multiple-measure rests. The first one is 8 bars long. Notice how the measure number is 61, and the next barline is measure number 69. In this case, it shows the singers using this part how many bars the orchestra plays after they're done singing (and perhaps before they start singing again on a subsequent page). It also notes key changes, which might help them follow along.

To emphasize: the number is the number of measures, not the number of beats. If you're counting four quarter notes per measure, then, you should multiply the number by four to get the total number of beats. If you're counting two half notes per measure, multiply by two.

  • Yes, to get the number of beats you have to multiply by the number of beats per bar, but why would you? In most cases it is a lot easier to count bars instead of beats (so you would count the beats per bar and count the number of bars separately.) Mostly if there’s an orchestra there’s also a conductor which means you can even see on which beat you are.
    – 11684
    Nov 6, 2018 at 23:48
  • @11684 I'm assuming the choreographer wants to know the duration of the music for which choreography must be composed, and I have no idea how the choreography is to be counted. I just wanted to be entirely unambiguous because I was involved earlier in a discussion in which it was unclear whether the other person understood that the numbers denoted measures rather than beats. The singers here are probably going to be too busy to count either measures or beats.
    – phoog
    Nov 7, 2018 at 0:02
  • @11684 I agree. Since this piece is in 4/4 (by my best guess), I would count these as "1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4" and so on up to "8 2 3 4" and then I would begin again from 1 for the next set. That way, you keep track of where in the rest you are. If playing with an orchestra, it is even easier because you just count the number of down beats the conductor does!
    – lioness99a
    Jan 25, 2019 at 12:29

The horizontal line indicates a rest that lasts for the whole measure and the number above indicates the number of measures that you have to rest.

You can easily confirm this by looking at the little numbers above the bar lines. They usually increase by increment 1, but at the measures in question, the increment corresponds to the numbers above the rests.

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