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This is the end of Leo Brouwer's study 4 from the "Estudios Sencillos":

score

Some notes here are tied to rests, or so it seems. What did Brouwer want the performer to do?

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  • A related scenario is discussed in Understanding the ending of Debussy's La fille aux cheveux de lin.
    – Aaron
    Jul 11, 2023 at 6:41
  • These notes aren't tied to rests, they're tied to nothing. You can just as well employ a "laissez vibrer" at the end of a piece, with nothing following. In all cases the meaning is "let strings ring as long as they will, regardless of tempo". Jul 12, 2023 at 6:06

2 Answers 2

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It means to let the chords ring, rather than cutting them off at the moment of the rest. Brouwer doesn't want the chords cut off; rather he wants them to fade naturally. This is a fairly common way to notate that. Sometimes such "ties to rests" will be accompanied by "l.v." or "Laissez Vibrer" ("let vibrate").

Here is an example from Debussy's Prelude for Piano (Preludes, Book 2, Number 1), the final two measures. The half-note chords are allowed to ring, via the damper pedal, and decay naturally (i.e., with the dampers lifted), while the two final chords are played.

Debussy "(...Brouillards)"

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    Unless one actually knows the meaning, tying to rests isn't intuitive. L.v is.
    – Tim
    Jul 11, 2023 at 7:57
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    @Tim Not sure about that. How is two letters intuitive if you have no idea what they stand for (and even in which language the phrase might be)? I'd say both notations are something you either know or don't know, not something you can easily guess. "Laissez vibrer" can be comprehensible if you know just a little French, but "L. v." is opaque.
    – Divizna
    Jul 11, 2023 at 13:13
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    @Tim With all due respect please don't state personal preference as an absolute. The meaning of a tie to a rest is obvious to a number of musicians I know. Jul 11, 2023 at 14:03
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    @CarlWitthoft - hadn't realised I did state anything as a personal preference. Sorry.
    – Tim
    Jul 11, 2023 at 14:13
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    This doesn't really make sense to me as a piano player so I'm trying to understand. Usually, the damper stops the sound from the piano as soon as I lift my finger from the key. If I want the let the note ring, I press the sustain pedal to keep the damper off the string as long as I hold the pedal (though this does all the dampers at once). There's no way I know of to just "let a chord ring out naturally" on the piano. The only thing that comes to mind that might do this is the Sostenudo Pedal. Is that perhaps what this is for?
    – Chipster
    Jul 12, 2023 at 1:19
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Depending upon the style of music, I would be inclined to interpret notes tied to rest as an invitation to hold notes beyond the indicated duration if, in a performer's judgment, such treatment would make the piece sound better on the particular instruments being used, and in the particular venue where the piece is being performed, than playing them precisely as marked.

In many cases, it may be desirable to have a slight "echo" of notes that are played in one measure persist into the next measure, but for the sound of such notes to be much quieter than the sound of notes played in the later measure. If a piece is being performed in a very resonant space, or on a piano whose dampers quench string vibrations relatively slowly, this may naturally happen even if notes are cut off precisely at the end of a measure. If the piece is played on a piano with very fast-acting dampers in an acoustically dry space, however, the start of the next measure may sound very "empty" if notes were cut off as written. Unless a piece is written for a very specific purpose, there's no way a compiler will be able to anticipate the acoustics of the places it will be performed, or the characteristics of the instruments of the instruments that will be used, but a performer who is using the actual instruments in the space would be far better able (perhaps in conjunction with other people sitting in the audience area) to judge such things.

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