I was looking at some sheet music when I came across something I am seeing for the first time. It looked like a horizontal bar on the first measure. Here is an image:

Bar with "15" above the staff

What does this bar tell you? What is it for?


1 Answer 1


That is a multi-measure rest. The numeral 15 above it indicates that it is equivalent to writing out fifteen bars of full-measure rests. This is done to save space, for example in orchestral parts.

  • 7
    It also saves you from having to count all 15 measures and praying you didn't miscount.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 25, 2019 at 5:22
  • 8
    You still have to count to 15, but at least you know it's 15 that you have to count to... Mar 25, 2019 at 10:15
  • 2
    Note, that for less than 15 full measuress a different notation exists using whole rest and vertical lines representing 2 or 4 measures of rest, see lilypond documentation.
    – guidot
    Mar 25, 2019 at 10:44
  • 1
    @guidot that is true, and it's well worth knowing both kinds of notation. As a personal preference, I'd rather see this symbol for 4 measures or more. Mar 25, 2019 at 12:47
  • 1
    @CarlWitthoft ...provided the numerals are clearly written. I've had to distinguish between 1 and 7, 5 and 3 (!) based on the longa/breve notation before!
    – Geoff
    Mar 25, 2019 at 16:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.