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?
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 T: 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.