An introduction to music theory
An introduction to music theory

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An introduction to music theory

4.4 More on grouping rests

In general it is better to write as few rests as possible bearing in mind the show each beat rule (and with such small time values as semiquaver rests, the show each half beat rule shown in Section 4.2 in Example 36). When you have to read more than three or four quaver or semiquaver rests in a row, or indeed a mixture of these, it is difficult to assess quickly just how long the cumulative length of these rests should be. Therefore, providing you follow the rules for grouping and the exceptions to these, use as few rests as possible.

Occasionally, and rather intriguingly, you can have a rest within a beat that is beamed, as shown in Example 40. This makes the beat easier to read.

Example 40

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Finally, the only saving grace about grouping rests, is:

For every time signature we’ve discussed, a rest for a whole bar is a semibreve rest, even for compound time signatures.

With the grouping of rests it takes time to become adept at organising each beat correctly. As with beaming, you will become familiar with how rests are grouped through looking at music on a regular basis. You will find that you gradually absorb the visual patterns created by the grouping of rests to the point where you can spot immediately a rest that has been used incorrectly. But this takes time, of course. Even so, try the following three groups of activities in which you are asked to identify missing rests. These exercises will help you to come to grips with at least some of the conventions involved.


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