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enter image description here

I don't understand what the half note rest means at the start of this measure. If it's a half note rest then why are all the notes in the chord not half notes? Same question for the eight note rest which appears a bit later.

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  • Hi, eeijlar, welcome to the site. The linked duplicate, plus other posts linked to it, all address the issue of "multiple voices" written together on a single staff. One of those posts should clarify for you the measure in your question.
    – Aaron
    Oct 25 at 18:52
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    Though wow, it seems like a not-great idea to have crowded this many voices into a single staff. Very cramped typesetting. So to spell it out, there appear to be three voices at work here, and the middle one has a half rest, an eighth rest, and a dotted-quarter G (assuming this is treble clef). Oct 25 at 18:58
  • @Aaron: that does answer my question, thank you! How do I know which 'voice' the rest applies to? Is it the first 'voice' or the second?
    – eeijlar
    Oct 25 at 19:00
  • @AndyBonner: Three voices! I thought there was two. If there were three, then would that mean the voice two is just made up of rests?? I would have to agree about the typesetting.
    – eeijlar
    Oct 25 at 19:03
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    @eeijlar My reading is that the top voice is the one with stems up, the bottom is with stems down, and the "middle" is as I described, the rests and the dotted-quarter (the durations of all those three "voices" add up to four beats). The fact that two of the voices use stems-down is one of the good reasons not to try to cram more than two into a staff if you can help it. Oct 25 at 19:05
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How do I know which 'voice' the rest applies to? Is it the first 'voice' or the second?

In this measure there are 3 voices, which I separated in the image below. In general it might seem unambiguous, but in practice it's rather clear, since:

  • each voice consistently uses stems up or down,
  • notes and rests are aligned horizontally so that their position in the measure is quite obvious,
  • it is rather uncommon in music for voices to cross (and if they do, a special care needs to be taken to notate it clearly).

enter image description here

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  • that makes sense, except for your second staff. Should the dotted G not be part of the third voice since it has a downward stem?
    – eeijlar
    Oct 26 at 10:12
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    @eeijlar - count the stems -down A E B - that constitutes 4 beats (full bar). The 'middle line' of music must have stems (!), so, the writer decided stems down. Look at where the rests are placed - out of line to where they should be - and that's the clue that makes G the 'middle line'. Stems up/down doesn't really matter. It's not the best writing I've ever seen..!
    – Tim
    Oct 26 at 11:08
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    @eeijlar what Tim said. Also note on the first beat you have low A in one voice, you have a chord in an upper voice, and you have a pause – this clearly indicates there is a third voice. Oct 26 at 17:30

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