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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?

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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.

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    It also saves you from having to count all 15 measures and praying you didn't miscount.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 25, 2019 at 5:22
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    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
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    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
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    @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
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    @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

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