I’m sure many of you, upon reading the title of this article, will be slightly taken aback. It does seem to promise the impossible – how can you count ninety-nine bars rest on your fingers when you only have ten of them to manipulate? There doesn’t seem to be any logic to it. And yet it can be done. And I’m going to teach you how.
Well, actually that’s not quite true. In fact I’m going to point you in the direction of a video that will teach you how. I know that may seem like a bit of a cop-out, but what’s the point in me trying to explain something when somebody else has already done it perfectly? It was from this video that I myself learnt the technique in question, and I hope that you find it as brilliantly useful as I have. If you’re anything like me, it will get you out of innumerable scrapes where a brief loss of concentration would normally give the disastrous result of a miscount.
Whilst we’re on the subject of counting bars rest on your fingers, I suppose it’s actually possible to count up to one-thousand-and-twenty-three if you use the correct technique. You simply need to use a binary system. To do this, you must assign each finger on your hand with a numerical value, like so:
Now, the key thing to remember is that if a finger is raised it counts as zero. If it is down then it takes the value assigned to it in the above image. The total number is the sum of all the ‘down’ fingers. So if, for example, your left forefinger and right ring finger were both down, that would represent the number sixty-six. Using this system, it is possible to represent any number from zero right up to one-thousand-and-twenty-three. This is how computers count (and represent data generally), because at the end of the day, like a finger can only be ‘up’ or ‘down’ for our purposes, an electrical switch can only ever be ‘on’ or ‘off’.
Of course, for practical purposes of counting rests this system is next to useless. For a start, I can’t imagine it ever being one hundred percent necessary to count over a thousand bars rest. And secondly, counting in binary is hardly the most intuitive thing in the world. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting thought.