# Topic: Notation question about rests in 12/8

1. ## Notation question about rests in 12/8

I'm in the process of re-doing the score for "A Most Amusing Man" currently posted in The Listening Room. One of the helpful pieces of feedback I got was from Rodney who pointed out I have 8th note rests all over the place when I should have 4th note rests.

I just now posted these questions and screenshots on the LR thread, but since we no longer have email notifications, I doubt if anyone will notice my new post and how desperate I am for answers! So, I'm posting the same set of pictures and questions here.

When I first worked on this score, not being sure of what to do, I let Sibelius crank out its idea of how many things should be notated, and these strings of 8th notes rests are one thing the program did. I thought perhaps it was good to have them, because the constant triplet pulse of the 12/8 time could be seen that way. It's kind of odd to be in a signature where a quarter note isn't counted in the usual way, but is instead counted as 2 pulses of a triplet.

But looking around online, I can see that what I have in the score as it's still seen on this thread, is definitely incorrect. I also see on various Forums, that a lot of people are confused by 12/8 notation, including over what to do with the rests.

SO--Jeff, Rodney, and all notation experts who happen to see this: Could you please take a look at these screenshots and tell me what the correct answers are?

Here's a measure from a Beethoven piece in 12/8. Wouldn't we use dotted quarter rests now instead of the way he has a quarter followed by an eight?

As I said above, I was thinking to always see the 12/8 pulse could be helpful. Here's the way a typical measure is in the currently posted score, but is the second measure correct and easily read?

With a single note in a measure, on the first beat, is the second measure in this next shot how the rests should be done?

With a measure starting with rests, is the second measure correct, or should it start with the dotted half rest?

If I can get a definitive answer to those questions, I'll know how to fix up the rests in the piece. Please help!

Randy

2. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

Randy,

Unfortunately my notation reference books are packed away. (getting ready to move)
So this is the best I can give you without quoting directly from an authoritative source.

In your first two examples, all measures are easily playable in the real world, I don't think any musician is going to have a problem with them. But from an engraving standpoint, the rule (as best as I can remember) in compound meter, a quarter rest is only to be used on the beat. So in example 1, measure 2 is correct. In example 2, measure 1 is correct.

A quarter rest is used to group together 8th notes 1 & 2, 4 & 5, etc.... not to be used to group 8th notes 2 & 3, 5 & 6, etc.....

In example #3, it should be dotted half rest, dotted quarter rest, quarter rest, 8th note. The dotted half rest should only be used on beats 1 or 3. In your 2nd measure, by putting the dotted half rest on beat 2, you're hiding beat 3 which is a primary beat. Beat 3 needs to be visible to the player.

And yes, the Beethoven example if written today would use dotted rests.

Hope this helps,
JT

3. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

Originally Posted by Jeff Turner
...this is the best I can give you without quoting directly from an authoritative source...
Jeff to the rescue! This is so great - I didn't expect to get a reply so fast on the weekend, but was sure hoping to get one.

The logic of what you've explained sounds authoritative to me! I understand everything you've said here, and what you explain about the 3rd example and how a dotted half rest should only be on beats 1 and 3 is especially helpful - Unintentionally disguising the primary beats is exactly what I was wanting to avoid.

Excellent - I shall go forth and rest!

Thanks much, Jeff.

Randy

4. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

Jeff has stated this well and would be the same advice that I would give. Primarily and most important is to give the performer a sense of where the beat is especially the 1st and 3rd beats of a measure.

5. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

Hi Randy,

Your second bar in the first example is correct.

Neither bar in the second example is correct. If you turn the first crotchet rest in the second bar into 2 quaver rests, then that is the correct way to notate it.

In your third example, you need to swap the dotted minim rest and the dotted crotchet rest around and then it will be correct. You can only use a dotted minim rest for the first or last half of the bar but not the middle i.e. the 2nd and 3rd beats.

Hope this helps. All the best.

This is a screen shot of one of my theory worksheets that I give to students when they get to rules on grouping. It uses 6/8 times but still is relevant to grouping rests.

6. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

Jeff, Rich, Yjoh - You're all princes among men. Thank you so much. I was going to do new screenshots to show that I have the hang of it now, but I really don't need to turn in that homework assignment. I get it! Once I more fully grasped the concept of 12/8, everything you've all said made sense. I was able to go through the score pretty quickly, fixing all the incorrect rests. The visual pattern of making sure all four beats were clear became simple enough to see.

There are passages here and there with syncopation which were a bit trickier, but I think I have those right too. - To be sure, tomorrow I'll do a screenshot of one or two examples so you can check your pupil's work.

Thank you!

Randy

7. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

My dear professors,

I've decided to hand in a sample of my homework assignment after all, so my work can be double checked. I'm pretty sure all is well now with my 12/8 notation, but naturally want to be sure it really does pass muster.

Here's a randomly chosen section showing a few bars of the woodwinds and saxes. There's a variety of rhythms in the passage, so is fairly representative of the piece I've been working on, except this happens to be a passage when the time changes back and forth between 12/8 and 6/8. The issue before fixing up the score was that I had allowed 8th note rests to be used throughout which was both incorrect and made for a visual clutter.

Hoping for an "A" on my assignment.

Randy -- (click image for enlargement if you want)

8. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

Randy,

The rests all look good to me. You seem to have understood the concept very well.

I did notice a couple other things in this segment you posted if that's okay.

In the 6th measure, the bass clarinet, 4th eighth note should probably be down an octave. That'd be much easier to play.

In the 5th measure, saxes, going into each beat, some of the notes are slurred, some are not. For the instruments that are not slurred, but playing the same pitch like the tenor & bari on the first half of that measure, you might consider adding a tenuto marking (horizontal line) to the eighth note which leads into the accented eighth note on beats 2 & 3. This tells the players not to play that note short, and by playing it long the phrasing will blend better with the other sax that is slurred.

Hope that makes sense.
JT

9. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

It looks good to me. I'd give it an A- (this was only a part of the whole assignment). jk

10. ## Re: Notation question about rests in 12/8

Ha! You beat me to it, Jeff! - I just now wrapped up the new version of the score, made a PDF and a MIDI file, was ready to post things on the "Amusing Man" thread in the LR, but your post with new notes means that would be premature. It'll be great if you and the other experts can let me know about issues they might find in the new edited score, but I may as well do yet another edit before posting.

Originally Posted by Jeff Turner
...In the 6th measure, the bass clarinet, 4th eighth note should probably be down an octave. That'd be much easier to play.
Right, I see. One thing I had to face with this edit is that I lowered the entire thing a full step, as per Rodney's note in the LR that I had it in a pretty much impossible key. Now it starts in F, instead of G. But transposing the arrangement as I had it made some areas "tubby," bottom heavy. This spot you're talking about, for awhile I had the first three bass clarinet notes in that measure an octave up - I might return to that, because it might be adding more bass than I need at that point. I'll check. But if just dropping that note an octave as you suggest works, I'll do that. - I did some re-working of lines here and there, looking for awkward spots - You found one!

Originally Posted by Jeff Turner
...In the 5th measure, saxes, going into each beat, some of the notes are slurred, some are not. For the instruments that are not slurred, but playing the same pitch like the tenor & bari on the first half of that measure, you might consider adding a tenuto marking (horizontal line) to the eighth note which leads into the accented eighth note on beats 2 & 3. This tells the players not to play that note short, and by playing it long the phrasing will blend better with the other sax that is slurred...
Yes, I follow that. That brings up the whole Tenuto question. Right now this score doesn't have any tenuto markings in it, because I don't feel confident about using them. I get the basic concept, but it still seems like a subtle direction to me that so far I had decided to just not deal with! hehe - I have plenty of staccato and stress markings, and lots of 8ths followed by rests. What I intend is that for places where I haven't used any of those, then tenuto is implied. Play the full note please! - I'm getting a heat flash just thinking about going through this yet again for days, placing tenutos in.

In that passage, the Alto is playing the melody and the other saxes are rhythm. I understand what you're saying, but the subtlety of exactly how long those 8ths are played before the stressed ones - I just don't find it crucial for making me happy. -- See what I mean?

But, before I replace the inaccurate 12/8 version of this I have up in the LR, I'll do yet more editing, especially looking for awkward bits like you passed on about that bass clarinet figure.

Thank you for all your help, Jeff!

Randy