# Dotted half rest !!?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Jack Clark, Apr 13, 2011.

1. ### Jack Clark

Aug 17, 2008
Idyllwild, California
This one threw me because I never thought of it before. I'm using Finale Songwriter to try to teach a fellow amateur band member a little bit of rhythm, using standard notation. At one point, when we we're still talking about 4/4 time, I carefully explain that a quarter note is not always going to be equal to a quarter measure because there aren't always going to be four quarter notes in a measure, and that for the same reason a half note is not always going to be equal to a half measure. I show him about rests, too, and why they are rhythmically just as important as notes.

So then we get into 3/4 time, and&#8212;comparing it to 4/4 time&#8212;I explain why you can't have a whole note in 3/4 time&#8212;you can have only as much as a dotted half note. In fact, Finale won't let you enter a whole note in 3/4 time. Then I look at the next empty measure and I get this sinking feeling. There, in the middle of the measure, is a whole rest. Sure enough, my friend asks me, "Then how come you can have a whole rest in 3/4 time? How come you can't have only as much as a dotted half rest?"

Has anyone ever seen or even heard of a dotted half rest? If not, then a whole rest really does equate to a whole measure, even in 3/4 time where a dotted half note equals a whole measure. Boy I didn't see this one coming. But maybe it's only my very sparing formal training. Have any of you guys ever heard of a dotted half rest? And if not, why not&#8212;when you come to think of it. I mean, I think there must be dotted half rests for some situations, . . . but for a whole measure in 3/4 time? I notice that Finale doesn't default to dotted half rests for empty measures when you select 3/4 time.

2. ### FebsSupporting Member

May 7, 2007
A whole rest can generally be used for any measure that contains no notes, even measures that are not in 4/4.

I don't know that there is any probibition against dotted half rests per se, but off the top of my head, I can't think of any situation where I would use one. For example, as you point out, in 3/4 time, I would use a whole rest. In 4/4 time, I would generally use a half rest and a quarter rest to indicate three beats rest, rather than a dotted half rest.

3. ### transition

The conventions of music notation are driven by the quest for clarity.*

When the entire measure is rest, the convention is to use a whole rest; putting in the "proper" number of rests would force the eye to scan the measure to make sure there weren't notes to be played. One simple marking can convey all it needs to, and no more is needed.

For exceptions, see: Rest (music) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

*For the curious: clarity means different things in different contexts. The traditional way to set vocal music is clear to vocalists, but looks confusing as all get out to instrumentalists; the beaming indicates the phrasing, so you end up with lots of flags. The current practice is to beam like instrumental music, but the old convention is still very common.
For more info on this, see the section called "Beamed notes": List of musical symbols - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4. ### transition

Bah - I type too slowly.

Yep: this is more clear. The rule of thumb in 4/4 is to try to make it possible to divide the measure in half at a glance, which wouldn't happen with a dotted half rest.

This is why you'll often see an eighth note tied to an eighth note on the and of two into three: a quarter note is cleaner, but it obscures the mid-measure point.

6. ### grooooooveSupporting Member

Dec 17, 2008
Long Island, NY
yes.

7. ### Stick_PlayerBanned

Nov 13, 2009
Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
Disclosures:
Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters

8. ### FebsSupporting Member

May 7, 2007

That's a good example of what I mentioned earlier. I would write that as a half rest and a quarter rest.

9. ### Stick_PlayerBanned

Nov 13, 2009
Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
Disclosures:
Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
I believe in the above example, if you think 3 + 2, then the dotted half rest makes sense.

10. ### seanmI'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!Supporting Member

Feb 19, 2004
Never thought of that, but I think I would prefer a half rest and a quarter rest in 4/4 time.

And if you threw a whole note at me in 3/4 time, I don't think I would even notice it was wrong. I would see one note taking the entire bar and move on without thinking about the correctness of it. That said, a dotted half note would work just as well.

11. ### Yoghurt

May 20, 2005
Rathfarnham, Ireland
Whole note rests are used in a bars of varying time signatures like this but it's not really thought of as good practice. It's done more so for ease of reading and for neatness sake, it is more correct to use a dotted half rest in OP's scenario.

12. ### tstone

Nov 16, 2010
San Francisco, CA
>> Whole note rests are used in a bars of varying time signatures like this but it's not really thought of as good practice. It's done more so for ease of reading and for neatness sake, it is more correct to use a dotted half rest in OP's scenario.​
I would have to disagree quite strongly with that. A whole rest, always placed in the middle of the measure, is used to indicate a full measure of silence in any time signature except 4/2 and 8/4, where a double whole rest. or "breve," is required for that purpose.

13. ### Jack Clark

Aug 17, 2008
Idyllwild, California
Thanks for all the responses. I think it's pretty clear that for purposes of instruction, a student needs to know that, while a dotted half rest may be technically correct, by convention he's going to see a lot of full rests in 3/4 time (and other time signatures) in the sense that it just means a full measure of no notes to play. A student should be able to deal with that.

14. ### Stick_PlayerBanned

Nov 13, 2009
Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
Disclosures:
Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
Exactly.

If I don't see any notes in a measure, I will definitely rest - no matter if there is a dot or not.

15. ### Yoghurt

May 20, 2005
Rathfarnham, Ireland
Now that I've revised this part of my knowledge I can see that you're completely right to disagree. I was quite wrong, thanks for pointing that out

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