Author Topic: Rests In Asymmetrical Meters  (Read 2562 times)

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RJB54

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Rests In Asymmetrical Meters
« on: August 23, 2011, 03:20:02 AM »
I have a question requarding multi-beat rests in asymmetrical meters.

In common meters the rule is that a half rest is acceptable as a stand-in for two quarter rests in duple meters while in triple meters it is not. In asymmetrical meters I have seen various approaches.

For example in 7/4 I have seen 'quarter-note quarter-rest half-rest quarter-note quarter-rest quarter-rest' as well as 'quarter-note dotted-half-rest quarter-note half-rest' and other variants.

When a new notational element is introduced, such as asymmetrical meters, the 'Standard' notational rules for that element, such as notating multibeat rests in an asymmetrical meter, will always follow after composers try various methods. Is there now some (semi-)standard rule?

Gardner Read doesn't explicitly say as his discussion of rests is almost completely about conventional duple and triple meters and not asymmetrical meters. The one thing he does say which might be applicable is a statement that in other than duple meters half rests should not be used to represent two quarter rests.

However, there is at least one valid reason to use a half rest to represent two quarter rests or a whole rest to represent four quarter rests in an asymmetrical meter which is to indicate the desired subdivision of that asymmetrical meter.

For example, if in 7/4 subdivided 2-2-3 (4-3), the use of half rests or whole rests to indicate the two beat subdivisions and a dotted half to represent the three beat subdivision makes sense and is pretty clear if an entire subdivision is being rested. My question is requarding the situation where a given subdivision contains both note(s) and rest(s).

For example, a three beat subdivision of a (2+2+3) 7/4 where, say, beat five has a note and beats six and seven are rests. Is it acceptable to represent beats six and seven with a half rest or are two quarter rests required as in 3/4?

Can anyone suggest a good notation book which is more recent that Read's which covers these sorts of notational issues so that I can be a bit more up to date?

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Michel.R.E

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Re: Rests In Asymmetrical Meters
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2011, 07:35:26 AM »
look at the logical subdivision of your 7/4 (for example) measure, and you make the decision of how it is divided.

I have used asymmetrical meters extensively in my music (mostly 5/4 and 7/8, and non-standard subdivisions of 9/8 and 8/8), and there is always a "logical" subdivision.

For example a 7/4 almost always divides into a 3/4 + 4/4 in some way (or the reverse). it could be 6/8 + 4/4 as well.
It's simply up to you to decide on the clearest notation.

Keep important strong beats within the measure clearly delineated. If the music is 3+4, then don't obfuscate the 4th beat with a long-value rest on beat 3.

I am not against the idea of writing 1/4 note, half rest, half rest, half note, in a 7/4. I see no reason to hold to the traditional "no half note rest on beats 2 and 3" of a classic 3/4.

Remember that ALL notational standards are there to make sure that the music is crystal clear and logical.
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RJB54

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Re: Rests In Asymmetrical Meters
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2011, 07:43:58 AM »
Thanks.

What I have always done in this context was use the rest notation which seemed the most logical on a measure by measure basis based upon the content of any given measure; but, I did want to know if I was breaking some 'standard' rule I wasn't aware of.

I am probably going to be asking similar, possibly basic, notational questions along the way as with the next compositions I have in the pipeline, and the rewrites of those I've already posted, I have decided to spend the time to try and make the engraving (which I have been fairly lackadaisical about so far) as top notch as I can.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
Frank Zappa