I know there are rest notation rules in theory, and I’m curious to know what they are, as I’ve never learned them. I read somewhere, for example, with ‘cut time’ there’s not supposed to be dotted rests? Would anyone be able to clarify?

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    I think the rules are the same as for note grouping or beaming. Could you provide an example of a dotted rest you have doubts about? Dec 3, 2020 at 22:43
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    This question is a little too broad. You should probably narrow in on one question.
    – Peter
    Dec 3, 2020 at 23:09
  • What are the guidelines/rules for questions on this site? Three years long enough? Is this "making the internet better" as was Joel Spolsky's original vision? Maybe. Nov 7 at 0:28

1 Answer 1


There is a general principle that in duple meters, the two halves of the bar should be clearly visible, and similarly in triple meters, the three primary divisions should be clearly visible.

As a consequence, one would not use a dotted half-rest in cut time, because it would obscure the halfway point of the measure.

X: 1
M: 2/2
K: none
L: 1/4
"^Wrong"z3 B | "^Right"z2 z B |

This principle is articulated for duple meter in the Rests section of the style guide for A-R Editions.

the use of rests should allow the two halves of a duple meter, simple or compound, to be instantly recognizable.

The guide follows this principle for triple meter also, though without explicit statement.

The Indiana University Notation Style Guide has a paragraph in the Notation section specifically addressing dotted rests.

Augmentation Dots. Dotted rests at the beat level or higher should be reserved for compound meters. For example, dotted quarter rests should not appear in a measure of 2/4. Rests at the division or subdivision level may be dotted (i.e., dotted eighth rests in 2/4 are actually clearer than writing an eighth rest followed by a sixteenth rest). Dotted notes are fine, as long as they emphasize the meter, and don’t break any of the rules above. Double dotted notes and rests are confusing, often misplayed, and should be avoided.

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    Huh, I could have sworn I saw more sheet music that's public domain due to age scrupulously avoid dotted rests than use them.
    – Dekkadeci
    Dec 4, 2020 at 12:59
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    Nice, +1. I transcribe classical guitar pieces for my own (and hopefully others) enjoyment, and start out with "the lazy option" (i.e. what the software suggests). After that I "correct" it as I see fit, to make it easy on eyes and mind to interpret (well, to my eyes and mind at least). I'll have a peek of what I did in the past, curious. Dec 4, 2020 at 15:57

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