I am trying to figure out the missing rests in a couple of bars with the time signature 9/8.

Two incomplete measure of 9/8 time.  The first measure has: three eighth notes, a gap, three eight notes.  The second measure has: eighth note, gap, dotted quarter note, gap, eighth note.

I think for the first bar there will be a dotted quarter rest. I am not too sure about the next one. Any hints or directions appreciated.

3 Answers 3


The time signature 9/8 is used for a compound triple metre, i.e., three dotted quarter note beats (of three eighth notes each).

For the first measure in your question, the first and last beats are filled with eighth notes and only the middle beat is missing. This should be filled by a single dotted quarter rest — as you said.

For the second measure, the middle beat is filled by the dotted quarter note, but both the first and last beats are incomplete.

The first beat has two eighths notes missing. This should be filled in as two separate eighth rests. A single quarter rest symbol is not appropriate here because this rest is not at the start of a beat.

The third beat also has two eights missing, but because these rests are at the start of the third beat they should be combined and written as a single quarter rest.

Two measures in 9/8: The first has: three eighth notes, dotted quarter rest, three eighth notes; the second measure has: eighth note, eighth rest, eighth rest, dotted quarter note, quarter rest, eighth note.

As stated in Elaine Gould's Behind Bars, p. 163:

[R]ests at the beginning of a beat may be combined.

Rests that follow a beat should expose all three divisions[.]


In 9/8 time, it is customary to notate it as three groups of three beats each. Thus, you are correct that the first measure would be completed by a dotted quarter rest.

Keeping this convention in mind, and observing that the second measure's "middle" three beats are accounted for by the dotted quarter-note, should allow for the question to be answered.

  • And just in case the above wasn't enough: the first eighth note should be followed by a quarter rest, and the final eighth note should be preceded by a quarter rest. The measure should be eighth note, quarter rest, dotted quarter note, quarter rest, eighth note.
    – Aaron
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 0:34
  • 1
    @Swaraj Looking through your questions on this site, it appears you're working your way through a music theory textbook? Is that the case? If yes, then the book should already have addressed the question of 3/4 time and also given you the information needed for 3/8 time. I suggest re-reading the earlier parts of the book. If you're not working from a textbook, then I recommend finding either a textbook, a YouTube video series, a tutorial website, or other resource to walk you through some of the basics.
    – Aaron
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 1:20
  • 2
    I thought I've read that a quarter rest shouldn't be used at the end of a compound meter grouping of 3 eighth notes - two eighth rests should be used instead. (Similarly, in 3/4 time, two quarter rests should be used at the end of a measure instead of a half rest.)
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 12:43
  • @Dekkadeci - can't see how - they're only specified silences, like specified notes, and a quarter note/rest = two eighth notes/rests. A question is born?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 13:28
  • 1
    @Dekkadeci: Elaine Gould agrees with you (screenshot from p. 163 of Behind Bars). Basically, if you have an eighth note on the third sub-beat, you can precede it by either a quarter rest or two eighth rests ("if it is important that the player sense all three divisions".) But if you have an eighth note on the first sub-beat, it should be followed by two eight rests. Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 15:24

9/8 is equivalent of 9 eighth notes per bar. BUT because the top number is a multiple of 3, those eighth notes are set out in groups of 3 (or equivalents of 3 quavers). As in, the bar could be divided into 3 equal parts.

It's the same with other compound time signatures - 6/8 divides into 2x3, 12/8 into 4x3.

So, now, it's pretty simple sums!


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