Request for setting to control display of measures rests in 4/2 and longer meters (breve versus whole)

• Aug 10, 2021 - 23:36
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

By default Musescore uses a "breve" style rest for empty whole measures 8/4 or longer.
I didn't think rests like that have been used for centuries, at least not as standard practice (and when they were, longa rests were used for 16/4 etc., which MuseScore doesn't do).
Simplest fix is just to remove the special case logic and always use regular whole measure rests - if somebody really does want that style rest they can fake it in other ways (adding symbols etc.)
But if there really are scores which using such style rests is standard practice, then introduce an option to do so (but it should be off by default, with logic to handle loading scores created in previous versions as necessary) and have it work correctly for 16/4 etc.
Reference example: Carmina Burana, opening (O Fortuna), in 3/1 - piatti line has regular whole measure rests, also see 2nd movement in 4/2. Rite of Spring has an 11/4 measure. Both scores use regular whole measure (semi-breve) rests (though interestingly Orff's handwritten autograph does appear to use a longa rest, not a breve rest, for the opening measures)

BTW the wikipedia article on Rests cited Gardner Read as an authority that claims 4/2 measures (but no other type) should use breve rests, but in fact the passage there is talking about historical usage, and states clearly (p98) that "But today the whole rest stands for any empty measure" (my emphasis). I updated the article.

Update: I believe this practice must come from Gould's Behind Bars who does indeed state: (p96)

The semibreve rest acts as a whole-bar rest in any time signature (but see
below). For all time signatures of 4/2 or 8/4 and over, the breve rest represents
a whole—bar rest:

But from what I can see this is an outlying opinion and doesn't line up with what I've observed.

Even Musescore's own handbook ( states:

Full measure rest
A whole rest, centered within a measure (shown below), is used to indicate that an entire measure (or a voice within a measure) is silent, regardless of time signature.


Severity S3 - Major S5 - Suggestion

It still is by design, following Gould.
Ketting it change therefore is not a Bug (and not a major one for sure), but a Feature request, AKA suggestion

I still haven't found a single score printed since about 1650 using a breve rest, so I don't know where Gould got that from.
I did notice that some 19th century scores use dotted whole note rests in 6/4, and even dotted whole note + dotted 1/2 note rest for 9/4 (e.g. Wagner Parsifal). Some other 4/2 examples:
Mahler Ruckert Lieder, Um Mitternacht, page 28 of…
Schubert Impromptu #3 -… - no breve rests here! (Alright alright I'm cheating, there are no whole measure rests at all, pity - but interestingly it doesn't even use breve/double whole notes even though the last bar might be expected to).
Obscure, but modern at least... Gary Bachlund Winterweihe

However...I was finally able to find something using a breve rest, from 1547!

Glareanus' Dodecachordon, Josquin des Prés -…

But even then there's another more modern typesetting that uses regular whole (semibreve) rests as per…

As per my comment in the forum, I don't think it's relevant to consider the minuscule number of scores in 4/2 written since 1650 and compare the percentage that use whole rests to the percentages of the enormous number of historic scores that use the breve rest. 4/2 is a time signature almost exclusively used for Renaissance music, so the norms of that time are relevant. And both ancient and modern editions of Renaissance almost universally use the breve rest. So there are probably 100 times There are probably 100 times as many scores in the world produced in the last 20 years using breve rest for 4/2 as there are scores produced in the last 20 years using whole rest for 4/2 - because almost all the scores produced in the last 20 years that 4/2 are editions of Renaissance music.

Of course, if it ever does become a simple toggle option, then it won't matter much which the default is, and I'd be equally fine with changing it or not. But as long as it's a convoluted workaround, it makes much more sense that the miniscule number of modern scores in 4/2 or 8/4 should need to employ it than to force the thousands upon thousands of Renaissance scores using 4/2 to employ it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That's not a completely unreasonable point - but then the argument becomes whether MuseScore exists primarily for typesetting new or (very) old music.
I would have very much thought the former, but I could be totally mistaken.
I'd also note the number of people who have performed from the score of Carmina Burana is almost certainly rather greater the number who have performed from renaissance scores using breve rests! (I've performed a reasonable amount of renaissance music and I still think breve rests look weird).
I'm not entirely convinced that most modern editions of renaissance and earlier music primarily use breve rests, given the one example I found had a modern typesetting with a regular semibreve/whole rest.
At any rate, using breve rests for time signatures such as 11/4 etc. seems totally unjustified.

But I certainly accept we can't just change the default behaviour without providing an option to keep the existing behaviour.

(I'd also note that pre-1650 typesetting had a huge number of conventions that are very different from modern ones, so if you really were typesetting renaissance music according to renaissance conventions, I'd expect you'd load up a whole different style file).

Title Whole measure rests display as breve rests in measures >= 8/4 in length Request for setting to control display of measures rests in 4/2 and longer meters (breve versus whole)

If it were closer to equal in terms of sheer numbers of scores concerned, then it would be relevant to ask which group to cater to more. but since it is so completely skewed in favor of Renaissance scores, I stand by what I said. To restate: if a new feature is added to make this a simple toggle (a style setting, say), then I won't care - no one would be inconvenienced much either way. But as long as the workaround remains somewhat painful, to me it's important to inconvenience the fewest number of people. That is, my measuring stick isn't the age of the scores, but the sheer numbers of them. I don't see that ever changing - my basic attitude about how to set defaults, or the numbers in terms of how many 4/2 scores were written in the Renaissance versus more recently.

Also, while it is true original editions of Renaissance music often looks very different than today's music, there are certain conventions that have been widely, if not universally, adopted, in the thriving business of producing modern editions using modern clefs etc. There are indeed some other features MuseScore could add to make this simpler, but we've come a long way in the years I've been working on MuseScore already. Support for mensurstrich, joining/splitting measures, mensural time signature display, "tick" barlines, historic C clefs, lute tablature, etc. I want to see this work move forward, not backwards.

Anyhow, the whole point becomes moot if a style setting is added, so I've changed the title to reflect what I think we can all agree needs to happen.