By Katie Cure

“Pico Iyer once said that “it’s the rest in a piece of music that gives it resonance and shape.”
The importance of the musical rest is overlooked by many. For some, it is merely the separation of notes. But to musicians, it is the entirety of the piece. Without the rest, you cannot make music.

In order to captivate the composer’s intentions behind a piece, one must emphasize the rests, not the notes. Take composer John Mackey, for example. In his pieces, he creates layer upon layer of musical sound, making sure to carefully place certain voices in the music to create his one-of-a-kind sound. In his piece, “Lightning Field”, Mackey uses the art of rest to convey emotion to his audience.

Take a moment to listen to this composition. Do a quick you tube search and find a version you prefer. Close your eyes and take every sound in. While you blatantly notice the slew of notes surrounding the stage, keep in mind of the delicately placed rests.

In considering the metaphor or rest in music, consider the following:

  1. What did you feel when listening to the piece? Were you able to experience the rest in the music?
  2. How do you ensure your rest is more than just “separation of the notes”, but rather, rest becomes a critical element supporting your work in the world?
  3. Katie refers to the intense volumes in music that require an opposition. What is your “opposition” that supports balance in your life?


Imagine you are sitting in the audience. The intense volumes in front of you mean nothing if there is not an opposition. Just like many things in life, things must be balanced. There is no significance of sound unless it is broken with silence; one must emphasize the rests, to feel the notes.”
~ Katie Cure