I can write the following in the violinOne part in LilyPond 2.18.2 and it produces a quarter note rest in a pickup measure followed by a measure with a half note rest and then a quarter note rest:

\version "2.18.2"
\language "english"
\header {
  tagline = ""
  title = "O Worship The King"
  composer = "arr. Zack Macomber"
#(set-global-staff-size 17)
\paper {
  indent = 2.0\cm  
  short-indent = 0.5\cm 
global= {
  \time 3/4 \tempo "Andante Moderato (c. 100 bpm)"
  \key g \major
violinOne = \new Voice \relative c'' {
  \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Violin 1 "
  \partial 4 r | r2 r4 
  \bar "|."
violinTwo = \new Voice \relative c'' {
  \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Violin 2 "
  \partial 4 r | g g a 
  \bar "|."
viola = \new Voice \relative c' {
  \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Viola "
  \clef alto
  \partial 4 d\mf | g g a 
  \bar "|."
cello = \new Voice \relative c {
  \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Cello "
  \clef bass
  \partial 4 d\mf | g g a 
  \bar "|."
bass = \new Voice \relative c {
  \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Bass "
  \clef bass
  \partial 4 d\mf | g g a 
  \bar "|."
\score {
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff << \global \violinOne >>
    \new Staff << \global \violinTwo >>
    \new Staff << \global \viola >>
    \new Staff << \global \cello >>
    \new Staff << \global \bass >>
  \layout { }

When I attempt to change r2 r4 to r2. I get several messages stating warning: barcheck failed and my PDF output is incorrect.

How am I supposed to write a dotted half note rest in 3/4 time in LilyPond?

  • 1
    I can't reproduce this problem in 2.19.81. Perhaps it's something involving another spot in the score?
    – Richard
    Mar 5, 2018 at 22:41
  • But to answer your question, you write a dotted-half rest exactly as you did: r2..
    – Richard
    Mar 5, 2018 at 22:46
  • I'll try uploading a short example that produces the warnings... Mar 5, 2018 at 22:47
  • 1
    Why do you want such a rest? It would fill a whole bar. For that, you should have a whole-bar rest symbol. The Lilypond code should have R2., not r2..
    – Rosie F
    Mar 6, 2018 at 11:02
  • @RosieF Yes, I did end up using R2. in particular for the whole measure. I was actually having the same issue with R2. as well. Mar 6, 2018 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


The issue seems to lie in how you input the anacrusis in each voice. In violinTwo, for instance, you only write \partial 4 r, and LilyPond uses your last-specified duration for this rest (and all subsequent note values).

So when you write r2 r4 in violinOne, LilyPond uses the last-specified duration (4) for all values, and everything works fine.

But when you change it to r2., LilyPond uses the duration 2. for all subsequent input, because now that is the last-specified duration.

The barcheck failed warning isn't actually because of any inconsistency between r2 r4 and r2.. Rather, the failed barcheck is because your anacruses are 2., which is going against the \partial 4 you've set.

If you specify the durations for all of your anacruses, your score should compile just fine.


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