Eight rests have the same time value as eighth notes except that they call for an exact amount of silence. In the case of the eighth rest, the silence is brief -lasting exactly as long as an eighth note. There are many ways of writing it, but the symbol for an eighth rest looks a little like the number 7. The diagrem at right show you the most common way to notate an eighth rest.
The illustration below organizes the eight rest in terms of the other note and rest values we have studied in earlier lessons.
Listening To Eighth Rests
The first example is easy to play and easy to hear. You are tasked with the easy assignment of playing right on the beat, right along with the steady click track of quarter notes. the first measure is easy, measure two is nothing more than shortening or ‘choking’ the C note, found in the first fret of string 2.
The Importance Of Alternate picking
When we studied eighth notes earlier in this course we discussed the importance of alternate picking technique. In proper alternate technique you are alternating downstrokes with upstrokes, for notes on the beat, exactly with the count, use a down stroke. For notes after the beat, on the ‘and’ portion of the beat, the second half of the beat use an upstroke. If you beat your foot in unison with the click track, your pick and foot are moving in the same direction. If you need to review, you can watch my video lesson here.
The exercise is only two bars in length because ending right on bar two really brings out the character of those upstroked notes played on the ‘and’ of the beat. I want you to hit play button a few times before you try it on your guitar. Count along with the music, matching the click track and take special notice of each note in bar two, played precisely after the click of the click track. Notes in the second measure are played on the off beat, on the ‘and’ of the beat, using an upstroke. Practice with the recording until you can feel the up beat, the off beat, the ‘and’ of the beat.
Eight Possible Slots
In one measure there are eight eighth notes, just as the feeling of playing on the first beat of a measure feels so easy and so right, each one of these eight spots has its very own distinct rhythmic feeling. In order to learn these rhythmic feelings, in other words to read music, you must get used to the feeling of starting and not stopping until you get to the end of the selection. Miss some notes if you must but keep your eyes moving across the music, keep playing, knowing exactly at which one of the eight spots to strike.
Imagine you are on a scooter delivering the mail to a block with eight houses on it. Once your scooter gets up to speed it doesent stop, slow down or speed up, it stays steady. You have to have perfect timing to deliver the mail to anyone of the eight houses on your block. The scooter (the music) starts and doesn’t wait for anybody- you have to use that perfect timing of yours to deliver every note exactly when called for.
Below are interactive exercises designed to learn the sound and feeling of each one of the eight spots in a measure of eighth notes. Rhythms beginning with notes played directly on the beat are easy, you are simply playing and counting along with the click of the click track. Rhythms beginning with notes played off of the beat, staring with the ‘and’ of a beat are difficult and produce that off beat feeling. Rhythms that enter with notes played off of the beat are called syncopated rhtyhms.
The second measure is where all the study and learning is, make sure you count out loud saying the number and the word ‘and’ for where you see the & sign. The count is lined up perfectly with the eighth notes and rests -each one of the eighth notes has a syllable, part of the count associated with it. As you progress through the exercises use the count as a way of giving a name to each one of the eight eoghth notes in a measure.
I have often found it helpful to read a piece of well-known music, although I am not actually reading it because I know what it sounds like, I know the outcome. This method of practicing can be very valuable because it takes musical figures that may seem difficult or confusing and makes sense out of them by relating to music you already know by heart. It’s sort of like reverse engineering -starting out with the finished product and figuring out how it was made.
In the case of Mozart’s’ famous theme to Eine Kleine Nachtmusic you have heard many times and probably even sang or hummed to yourself on a few occasions. When you listen to it now you can see hear that this wonderful melody is caused by the clever placement of eighth note rests and using syncopated notes in an artful manner.
The music below has the counting syllables in red and placed under the first guitar part. Practice singing these syllables in time along with music taking special note the accented, syncopated feeling caused by playing rhythms starting on the ‘and’ of the beat.