If you look at the image below, you'll see that the 3 treble bars and the first two bass bars accord with 3/4 time, but the last bass bar to my mind does not. I also do not understand where the rest is supposed to be played when it is directly over a note, before that note or after it?

In order to calculate if a bar accords with 3/4 time then it follows that one beat equals one quarter note and there are to be three such beats in a bar. If two quarter notes equals the same amount time as a half note, then it follows that in the bass clef there are 6 beats, which is three too many. I still don't understand where the rest is supposed. Let's also break this down in terms of time. The tempo is set at 42 quarter notes per minute. 60/42 = 1.42. Hence two quarter notes should be played 1.42 seconds apart and two half notes at 2.84 seconds apart. Each bar then should last 4.26 seconds. The bar in the bass clef would last 8.52 seconds.


  • I swear I've seen this exact circled left hand on a question in this website before.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 13:23
  • I'm more interested in where / why negative sheet music shows up! Commented May 7, 2020 at 13:40
  • 3
    One small point: musicians don't usually time notes in seconds or milliseconds. That could be the realm of computer nerds.
    – Tim
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 13:45
  • @Dekkadeci You're right. Here somebody asked essentially the same question about exactly the same piece of music: Rest above a note in a piano piece Commented May 7, 2020 at 20:27

4 Answers 4


There are two separate voices, both add up to 3/4.

two voices

You can think that there are two singers, singer 1 sings voice 1, and singer 2 sings voice 2.

  • Was short and crisp. I think it would be better if you recommend what to (Parts and Voices) read up on to know more for the OP. Commented May 7, 2020 at 12:14

To clarify what the other answers have already said: it's just a condensed form of writing

%%score T A B
V:T          clef=treble
V:A          clef=bass
V:B          clef=bass
% 1
[V:T]  f2 A2 ^c2 | d6       | d2 GF G2
[V:A]  z6           | z6         | z2 D4
[V:B]  D2  F,2 A,2 | D2 D,2 C2 | B,4   B,2

Imagine there are three musicians. One plays the top line - all the treble clef notes. Another plays all the bass clef notes that have downward pointing stems. And the third plays only in the third bar (that's all that is written for him) and he plays a rest followed by a D note for two beats. That's it. It will sound exactly as written.

Reasoning is that in the third bar, there are three voices. It can be played by one person on piano. It could have been written with that D tied across 2nd and 3rd beats, with the B written in under the second D note - the tied over one. The vast majority of music which effectively splits into three (or more) parts temporarily is written this way for piano.


You effectively have two separate lines happening in the bass clef in bar 3. On the first beat the B sounds by itself. On the second beat the D is added while the B is held. On the third beat the B is played again while the D is held.

  • What about the rest? How am I to interpret that?
    – bobsmith76
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 1:57
  • Its just there to indicate that the higher line in the bass cleff doesn't come in on the first beat.
    – Don Hosek
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 1:58
  • If by higher line you mean the D note, then wouldn't that be the case even if the rest were not there?
    – bobsmith76
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 2:02
  • Don is right. Imagine that bar being sung by two singers: a tenor and a bass. On the first beat the tenor has a 1-beat rest, then sings a 2-beat D. The bass sings a 2-beat note (B) at the start of the bar, followed by a one-beat note (B again). Now if you add up the tenor's notes they come to three beats. Add up the bass's notes and THEY come to three beats. It's written correctly. Commented May 7, 2020 at 2:08
  • @bobsmith76: Music is supposed to make sense if one looks at clefs individually. If the rest weren't there, and one didn't have the treble clef notes for reference, how would one know that there was exactly one quarter note beat before the D half note?
    – supercat
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 19:54

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.