Is there a noun associated with the part of a song where the instruments drop away very suddenly, with the purpose of creating suspense? To give you an example, I'm referring to moments like the one featuring from 1:19-1:23 in the Batman version of 'Something in the Way'. Here, many of the instruments suddenly stop playing, but you get the sense they're about to start up again. I considered 'diminuendo' but as far as I'm aware that implies a gradual softening, whereas the shift in the above example is actually rather abrupt.

'The [insert word] lasted only a few moments before the instruments rushed back in all at once.'


  • 2
    You would do better to ask this on music.stackexchange.com.
    – Robusto
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 19:52
  • 1
    I just listened to that song at youtube.com/watch?v=fVeI5xcnsd8, and there was no remarkable change from 1:19 to 1:23. Can you clarify, e.g. with a link? Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 22:04
  • Isn't the musical direction tacit, no accompaniment? I hear it at 1:50. Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 22:52
  • Are you asking for the musical term (which is probably "GP") or a descriptive English term?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 22:56
  • Thanks, @Robusto. I didn't even realise there was a separate section for music. I'll go post this question there now. Thanks.
    – Ashep
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 1:27

2 Answers 2


After heading over to music.stackexchange, I've been informed the answer to this question is 'break', which means when all or most of the instruments drop out, usually before a climactic moment. A 'rest' is when an individual instrument plays, is silent, then plays again.

  • Unfortunately that's not a very good definition of "rest". A musician would not say that they had stopped playing and started again when there is a short rest in the middle of a melody. Also an instrument playing a series of staccato notes is literally silent between such notes but those silences are not rests.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 14:21
  • Fair enough @nnnnnn. Would you agree that 'break' is the definition I'm looking for though? The definition I pasted in for 'rest' came from the same contributor.
    – Ashep
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 18:19
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    I think "break" is the best word for your example, although note that sometimes when people say "break" they mean a "solo break" or "lead break" in which one instrument is actively playing, not just sustaining the last chord like in your example.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 21:03

Fermata (Wiktionary)

(music) The holding of a note or rest for longer than its usual duration; also the notation of such a prolongation, usually represented as a dot with a semi-circle above or below it, written above or below the prolonged note or rest.

Rest (Wiktionary)

(music, countable) A pause of a specified length in a piece of music.

Edit: There is a word [which may not be (or may be) relevant to music] and means 'abrupt silence in speech'.

Aposiopesis (Wiktionary) (rhetoric) An abrupt breaking-off in speech, often indicated in print using an ellipsis (…) or an em dash (—).

  • 1
    These are specific musical terms that do not relate to what the OP is asking about.
    – Robusto
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 19:51
  • @Robusto the OP was considering diminuendo- a technical musical term so I don’t understand why you think they don’t want one of these.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 22:59
  • @DaleM - These specific musical terms don't fit what the OP described.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 23:49
  • @DaleM: Diminuendo doesn't work either. You can have a diminuendo by the entire orchestra without abruptly going quiet and featuring a small section. What OP seems to be asking about is more like the opening to Beethoven's 7th Symphony. Only, you know, in a Nirvana context.
    – Robusto
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 2:35
  • @Robusto I’m nit arguing these are the right terms, I’m just saying that there probably is a correct technical musical term and that this would answer the OP
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 22:58

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