Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 15 Oct 2015, 22:32

One of Arnstein's most interesting ideas was the "whole measure rest". For him, there was no such animal as the whole-rest, corresponding to the whole note. What everyone else called the "whole rest", he called the "whole measure rest". The "whole measure rest" filled out a empty measure of any meter; nothing new there. But that is all that it did. It never replaced a whole note in 4/2, for example, or the 4/4 part of a composite meter like 7/4. He used two half rests to fill out such places and only half rests.

His reasoning went thusly: the half and whole rests (I am going to use standard parlance from now on) are probably the symbols most easily confused with each other in musical notation. Even a pro who has had a bad day might need a little help: "Let's see, the whole rest is the heavy one that hangs down etc." Arnstein's solution was simple but complete: the whole rest would only be seen in empty measures, so there would be no doubt about its identity. The half rest would be used on all other occasions, so there would be no doubt about its identity. QED

Yes, hand copying did have some influence on this decision. But as always with A., there was a much bigger concept involved.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
Fred G. Unn
Posts: 202
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 13:24
Location: NYCish

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by Fred G. Unn » 16 Oct 2015, 01:25

John Ruggero wrote: His reasoning went thusly: the half and whole rests (I am going to use standard parlance from now on) are probably the symbols most easily confused with each other in musical notation. Even a pro who has had a bad day might need a little help: "Let's see, the whole rest is the heavy one that hangs down etc."
This one just seems like an unnecessary holdover from hand copying to me. I completely understand his rationale with a hand copied part, as if your hand slips, ink blots, not drawn straight, etc, it could be confusing. Basically you're better safe than sorry. In the computer age I just don't get the point. No competent performer is going to confuse a computer printed whole or half rest ever. As a performer myself, this just would never ever happen. Gould recommends the "1" over a whole measure rest and I've had another publisher require it too, but to me it just seems like unnecessary clutter. If there is no confusion with a half vs. a whole rest (as there is now with computer printed parts) I just don't see the advantage of including it. There's no effort involved in including it as it's just Document Options/Multimeasure Rests/Start Numbering at: 1 in Finale and Engraving Rules/Bar Rests/Multirests/Show '1' above bar rests in Sibelius, but I just don't see the advantage here.

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 16 Oct 2015, 02:04

As I said, I think this one transcends pen and ink. I am a very good sight reader, yet I would certainly prefer the Arnstein versions in the following examples:
Whole Measure Rest.jpg
Whole Measure Rest.jpg (41.3 KiB) Viewed 6685 times
The traditional notation is perfectly legible, but the Arnstein is more "user friendly" and helpful to the player. It was the cumulative effect of one such facilitation upon another that made players love Arnstein orchestral parts.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
Fred G. Unn
Posts: 202
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 13:24
Location: NYCish

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by Fred G. Unn » 16 Oct 2015, 02:32

Reading comprehension failure, LOL! I somehow thought you were referring to putting a 1 above a whole rest.

For your first example, I totally agree as the half is the subdivision. I'm not a big fan of 8 sixteenths beamed together though. A complete break or at least a secondary beam break would help here I think. I could go either way on the 2nd but if it's a clear 2+2+3, then the Arnstein way is better.

Vaughan
Posts: 46
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 12:37

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by Vaughan » 16 Oct 2015, 09:51

One thing that trips me up (and a lot of other musicians) is reading music which is severely non-proportional. I'm kind of used to it with some types of music, as I often use facsimile editions of 17th, 18th and 19th century scores, but especially in certain types of rhythmic passages with alternating note values or with complex time signatures, it becomes more difficult to read the music if the proportionality is extremely compromised. Whereas the rhythmic figures themselves are clear in John's examples, there's still the fact that in the very first, the first two beats take up as much space as half of one of the other beats (with 16ths). Whereas a certain amount of this is inevitable, it would still be easy when sight-reading in the thick of the fray (especially if the time signature weren't showing right before the measure) to start playing the beats with 16ths too early. Arnstein's method would indeed prevent this, as all four beats are obvious at a glance. Same with the second example, although perhaps to a slightly lesser extent.

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 16 Oct 2015, 17:48

Fred, I am glad that we agree on this issue, and Arnstein agrees with you about the beaming of the 16ths. (I will in the near future give Arnstein's views on beaming.) I didn't break the secondary beams in the Arnstein manner, because I didn't want to steer the conversation to the beaming issue, since I never know what Arnstein idea is controversial and which one is not!

Since you brought up the question of the numbered one measure rest, I am going to start another thread on that.

Vaughan, that is a wonderful point about relative proportionality and legibility, and the impact of Arnstein's solution on the same. In any case, I was trying to make the two versions comparable, but really should have given the whole rest in the "traditional" measure in 4/2 more room to be fair to that version.

A final comment on this issue. Obviously, this situation arises relatively rarely, given the fact that it can only occur in these meters, which are themselves less frequently encountered. It is ruled out in 3/2 for example, where whole rests would be prohibited in any case. (At least I think so. One never knowns anymore!) For this reason, I think that players don't get much practice counting whole rests (as opposed to the whole measure rest) and this also adds to the discomfort in dealing with them.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

OCTO
Posts: 1273
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by OCTO » 16 Oct 2015, 18:53

While I would teach my students the traditional version (keeping the old notation rules), I must admit that, as a performer, I would prefer definitely Arnstein's version.

I would though have a bit problem with beaming of :2 - I know it represents one beat, but anyway...
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25.5 • Sibelius 2019 • MuseScore 2+3 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9+10 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 10)

MJCube
Posts: 130
Joined: 15 Dec 2015, 13:32
Location: NYC

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by MJCube » 15 Dec 2015, 14:06

I and friends have certainly been tripped up by a whole rest in 4/2 meter. It is even not unheard of to mistake a half rest at the beginning of a 4/4 bar, since it’s larger than the beat. I have actually seen 2 quarter rests written in such a case. Conversely, a whole rest IS appropriate in a meter where a whole note gets the beat.

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 15 Dec 2015, 14:52

With Arnstein's system, one would never be tripped up by any half rest since one would immediately identify it as a half rest since it didn't occupy a whole measure. Good point about the 2/1, 3/1 etc. measures. I never actually copied one of those when I worked for him and have no idea whether he would have treated them like 4/2, 6/2 or actually used real whole rests.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

Peter West
Posts: 129
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 18:26
Location: Cornwall, England
Contact:

Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by Peter West » 17 Dec 2015, 11:19

I prefer to reserve whole rests for default bar rests, though some editors prefer them in 4/2 time where a half rest would have been used were it 4/4.
I always consider 7/x time to be triple time, so I never use a half rest in ⅞ just as I wouldn't use one in ¾, nor would I use a dotted half rest in 9/8. Therefore I would not use a whole rest in 7/4 to mean 4 beats.

My preference is in line with Arnstein in this matter, though 4/2 time is sometimes overruled by the editor.

Having said that I reserve the whole rest for whole bar rest, there are some publishers who prefer to use a measured rest for whole bars below a threshold determined by their style sheet. For example, Durand use a whole rest for any bar where the total duration is a quarter or more (so, for example ⅜, 2/8, ¼ would use a whole rest). Anything smaller uses a measured rest, so 3/16 would have a dotted eighth rest, 2/16 and eight rest and so on.
Last edited by Peter West on 17 Dec 2015, 20:58, edited 1 time in total.
Finale 2008/9/10/11/12/14, Sibelius 6/7.5, In Design CC 2015, Illustrator CS4

Post Reply