Breath mark

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A breath mark

A breath mark or luftpause is a symbol used in musical notation. It directs the performer of the music passage to take a breath (for wind instruments and vocalists) or to make a slight pause (for non-wind instruments). This pause is normally intended to shorten the duration of the preceding note and not to alter the tempo; in this function it can be thought of as a grace rest. It is usually placed above the staff and at the ends of phrases. Its function is analogous to the comma in several written languages. Indeed, a common notation for the breath mark looks very similar to a written comma.