Using a whole rest vs a tied note in Music

• May 18, 2022 - 20:27

In a song I am working on, there are many times in the piano voice that a whole measure has no note in its treble clef. I can choose to leave the measure's treble clef empty with a whole note rest, OR ... carry the previous measure into the new measure via a tied note. Here is an example:

Screenshot 2022-05-18 152424.png

Note that in measure 2, I have used a whole rest in the treble clef, but in measure 4, I have carried over the note in measure 3 with a tie.

Which in music is the "correct" approach? I have lots of examples in the score to adjust one way or another.



It depends on how long you want the note to last. Both are correct in the proper circumstance.

The rest defines where silence begins.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

I had not thought about the pedal holds in this case, since the bass clef has notes in all the measures, and the pedal marks are mostly timed for them.

I do understand that if I want a note technically "held" across two measures, I should use a tied note. Since in this case, the pedal marks break the hold at the start of each measure, I can use either a whole rest, or tie the notes and let the pedal mark break them. The result is the same. Consequently,

Screenshot 2022-05-18 164451.png

Is this officially proper notation in this case?

In reply to by fsgregs

Think about it this way:
Suppose the lower staff is accompanied by guitar, and the upper staff (melody) is vocal or flute.
When you listen with this logic: If you want the note in the upper staff to lengthen, you can increase its duration. if you don't want it to get longer then use rest.
It totally depends on how you want it.

If you ask my opinion, let them get longer if the musical sentence continues.

The tie is needed if you want the pianist to continue to hold the note, which is the only way it's going to continue to sound because you are also telling the pianist to lift the pedal. Only you can decide if you want that note to continue to sound though - there is no "correct" about it. just your choice to make - do you want to hear that note played for three beats or six?

If you don't lift. the pedal after three beats, then the note is going to continue to sound whether the pianist lifts their finger or not. In that case, it would be misleading and confusing to use the rest. You'd be telling the pianist, "please make that note stop sound" but simultaneously telling them "please make that note continue". A pianist would be forced to choose which of your conflicting instructions to disobey.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I totally understand your point. Thanks. Just a clarification. If I lift the pedal to break the bass notes from carrying over to the next measure, but simultaneously use a tie to ask the pianist to hold the treble note over two measures (6 beats) ...
1) Can a piano actually hold a note for six beats at this tempo or does it fade out too quickly to be heard anyway?
2) Assuming I do want the melody note to end after 3 beats, am I correct in using a whole rest for the next measure? It is OK?

In reply to by fsgregs

1) excellent question, very astute! The answer depends on the specific piano (generally, larger grands sustain longer because of the long strings), but also the tempo (I'm not sure what "this" tempo is) and also how hard you strike the note (louder notes sustain longer). Also, in practice, the note might sustain a very long time but be quiet enough that you only hear it if sufficiently close to the piano, or if the room is sufficiently quiet, etc. Way too many variables to really be able to say. In general, I would say it is best not to worry too much about that but assume a "theoretically perfect" piano that sustains exactly as long as you tell it to. If you want it to sustain 6 beats, notate it that way and let the circumstances dictate whether it really happens or not.

2) If you want the melody to end, then absolutely positively, use a rest, and release the pedal, nothing remotely subjective about that.

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.