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, the two symbols look identical.