Proper notation of rests

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pateceramics
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Joined: 06 Feb 2013 14:52

Proper notation of rests

Post by pateceramics » 06 Oct 2014 20:55

My favorite style guide says very little about proper notation of rests. Can anyone direct me to a resource that lists the standard modern notation rules, or summarize them briefly?

So far I've got:

Don't mark rests in such a way that they hide the beat, and it is particularly egregious to hide the middle of a measure.

For example: in 4/4, you would want quarter note, quarter rest, quarter rest, quarter note,
but not quarter note, half rest, quarter note, as this would "hide" the middle of the measure.

But I've not been able to find any style guide that discusses a preference between a dotted quarter rest and a quarter rest followed by an eighth rest if one is in 6/8.

Or any indication of a preference for quarter rest followed by an eighth rest, or eighth rest followed by a quarter rest, assuming that neither option would hide the beat.

Are there any other rules or preferences of which I should be aware?

Best,
M. Furtak

CHGiffen
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Re: Proper notation of rests

Post by CHGiffen » 07 Oct 2014 05:30

Hi Maggie,

I don't have time now to give a complete answer but will try tomorrow. The definitive treatment, however, is found in Elaine Gould's Behind Bars, pp 160-164. This is the music notator's bible. I'll try to summarize it for you tomorrow.
Charles H. Giffen
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Manager of ChoralWiki
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Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

CHGiffen
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Re: Proper notation of rests

Post by CHGiffen » 07 Oct 2014 15:27

Maggie, your succinct analysis is essentially correct. Here is a summary (using sort of LilyPond-ish notation) to summarize the relevant pages of Behind Bars on notating rests. I hope this helps.

Rests must be notated to indicate clearly the divisions of the bar.

1. Rests of one or more beats may only occur (start) on a beat.

2. Rests in duple or quadruple meters (not just simple meters 4/8, 2/4, 4/4, 2/2, but also compound meters 6/16. 6/8, 6/4, 12/8) must divide to expose the middle of the bar.

In 4/4: |n4 r4 r4 n4|, |n4 r4 r2| or |r2 r4 n4| but not |n4 r2 n4|, |n4 r2.| or |r2. n4|.
In 6/8: |r4. r4 n8| (|r4. r8 r8 n8| is okay, too), |n4 r8 r8 n4| or |n8 r8 r8 r4.|.

3. Rests in triple meter must expose all beats (two beat rests can only occur in duple or quadruple meters).

In 3/4: |r4 r4 n4| or |n4 r4 r4| but not |r2 n4| or |n4 r2|.
In 9/8: |r4. r4. n4.| or |n4. r4. r4.| but not |r2. n4.| or |n4. r2.|.

4. Dotted or combined rests within a beat, are encouraged (formerly not) to increase legibility.

In 2/4: |r8. n16 r8. n16|.
In 9/8: |r4. r4. r4 n8| or |n8 r8 r8 r4. r4.|.

SIMPLE METERS

5. In simple (eg. duple or quadruple 2/4, 2/2/, 4/4) meters, dotted rests are recommended for the beginning of a beat but not at the end of a beat (although they are acceptable at the end).

In 2/2: |r4. n8 n8 r8 r4| encouraged, |r4. n8 n8 r4.| acceptable.

6. The longest allowable dotted rest in simple meters is one level smaller than the beat.

In 4/4: |r2 r4 r8 n8| or |r8. n16 r4 r2| or |r2 r8. n16 r4|.

7. Dotted half (or whole) rests in simple meters are deprecated.

8. Within a beat, double-dotted rests may replace two or more rests, but clarity should take precedence.

In 2/2: |r4.. n16 n16 r4..| is acceptable, but |r4.. n16 n16 r8. r4| (or |r4.. n16 n16 r16 r8 r4|) are probably clearer.

9. In the middle of a beat, rests should exposel the middle of the beat, although this isn't necessary when the rhythm is clear.

In 2/2: |r2 n16 r16 r8 r8. n16| or |r2 n16 r8. r8. n16| but not |r2 n16 r4. n16|.
In 2/2: |n8 r4 n8 n8 r4 n8| is acceptable (clear rhythm).

COMPOUND METERS

10. Dotted rests as whole beats are standard. Combining whole beats must not obscure the important divisions within a bar (eg. middle bar in 6/8, 6/4, 12/8).

In 12/8: |r2. r4. n4.| or |n4. r4. n2.|.

11. Within a beat, rests at the beginning of a beat may be combined.

In 6/4: |r2 n4 r2 n4|.

12. When rests occur for more than the first two subdivisions of a beat (but not the entire beat), combine to expose the second subdivision of the beat.

In 6/4: |r4 r4. n8 r2.| but not | r2 r8 n8 r2.|.

13. For rests that follow a beat, all three subdivisions of the beat should be exposed.

In 6/4: |n4 r4 r4 n8 r8 r4 r4|.

14. When rhythmic feel must be communicated for rests at the beginning of a beat, rests should show these (don't combine).

In 6/4: |r4 r4 n4 r4 r4 n4| or |r4 r4 r8 n8 r4 r4 r8 n8|.

15. However, it is better normally, and in long bars especially, to combine rests to make position of beats clear.

In 9/8: |n8 r8 r8 r4 n8 r4 n8| instead of |n8 r8 r8 r8 r8 n8 r8 r8 n8|.

16. In the middle of a beat, expose at least two or the three subdivisions of the beat.

In 6/4: |n8 r8 r4. n8 r2.| or |n8 r8 r4 r8 n8 r2.| but not |n8 r2 n8 n2.|.
Charles H. Giffen
President of CPDL and
Manager of ChoralWiki
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Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

pateceramics
Posts: 42
Joined: 06 Feb 2013 14:52

Re: Proper notation of rests

Post by pateceramics » 07 Oct 2014 18:28

Wonderful! Thank you so much for taking the time!

I've just ordered Gould's book. It seems like a great resource to have.

And I will now go correct what I'm sure will be an agonizing number of rests in my scores. I leave smarter than I arrived!

pateceramics
Posts: 42
Joined: 06 Feb 2013 14:52

Re: Proper notation of rests

Post by pateceramics » 09 Oct 2014 01:25

I've just corrected the rests in my latest score, and, I think, successfully posted the updated version. ("The Plow Horse") This site really is a wonderful resource. Thank you all for taking the time to fill the gaping holes in my musical education.

Regards,
M. Furtak

CHGiffen
Site Admin
Posts: 1682
Joined: 16 Sep 2005 21:22
Location: Hudson, Wisconsin, USA

Re: Proper notation of rests

Post by CHGiffen » 09 Oct 2014 04:17

Glad to be of help, Maggie. Keep up the good work!!
Charles H. Giffen
President of CPDL and
Manager of ChoralWiki
User pageTalk pageComposer page

Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

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