Full measure rests

Rests for one or more full measures are entered like notes with the note name uppercase ‘R’. Their duration is entered identically to the duration notation used for notes, including the ability to use duration multipliers, as explained in Scaling durations:

% Rest measures contracted to single measure
\compressMMRests {
  R1*4
  R1*24
  R1*4
  b'2^"Tutti" b'4 a'4
}

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The example above also demonstrates how to compress multiple empty measures, as explained in Compressing empty measures.

The duration of a multi-measure rest must always be equal to the length of one or several measures. Therefore, some time signatures require the use of augmentation dots or fractions:

\compressMMRests {
  \time 2/4
  R1 | R2 |
  \time 3/4
  R2. | R2.*2 |
  \time 13/8
  R1*13/8 | R1*13/8*12 |
  \time 10/8
  R4*5*4 |
}

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A full-measure rest is printed as either a whole or breve rest, centered in the measure, depending on the time signature.

\time 4/4
R1 |
\time 6/4
R1*3/2 |
\time 8/4
R1*2 |

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Markups can be added to multi-measure rests.

\compressMMRests {
  \time 3/4
  R2.*10^\markup { \italic "ad lib." }
}

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Note: Markups and articulations attached to multi-measure rests are MultiMeasureRestText and MultiMeasureRestScript types, not TextScript and Script. Overrides must be directed to the correct object, or they will be ignored. See the following example:

% This fails, as the wrong object name is specified
\override TextScript.padding = 5
\override Script.color = #blue
R1^"wrong"
R1\fermata
% This is the correct object name to be specified
\override MultiMeasureRestText.padding = 5
\override MultiMeasureRestScript.color = #blue
R1^"right"
R1\fermata

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When a multi-measure rest immediately follows a \partial setting, resulting bar-check warnings may not be displayed.

Predefined commands

\textLengthOn, \textLengthOff, \compressMMRests.

Selected Snippets

Multi-measure rest length control

Multi-measure rests have length according to their total duration which is under the control of MultiMeasureRest.space-increment. Note that the default value is 2.0.

\relative c' {
  \compressEmptyMeasures
  R1*2 R1*4 R1*64 R1*16
  \override Staff.MultiMeasureRest.space-increment = 2.5
  R1*2 R1*4 R1*64 R1*16
}

\paper { tagline = ##f }

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Positioning multi-measure rests

Unlike ordinary rests, there is no predefined command to change the staff position of a multi-measure rest symbol of either form by attaching it to a note. However, in polyphonic music multi-measure rests in odd-numbered and even-numbered voices are vertically separated.

The positioning of multi-measure rests can be controlled as follows:

\relative c'' {
  % Multi-measure rests by default are set under the fourth line
  R1
  % They can be moved using an override
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = -2
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = 0
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = 2
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = 3
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = 6
  R1
  \revert MultiMeasureRest.staff-position
  \break

  % In two Voices, odd-numbered voices are under the top line
  << { R1 } \\ { a1 } >>
  % Even-numbered voices are under the bottom line
  << { a1 } \\ { R1 } >>
  % Multi-measure rests in both voices remain separate
  << { R1 } \\ { R1 } >>

  % Separating multi-measure rests in more than two voices
  % requires an override
  << { R1 } \\ { R1 } \\
     \once \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = 0
     { R1 }
  >>

  % Using compressed bars in multiple voices requires another override
  % in all voices to avoid multiple instances being printed
  \compressMMRests
  <<
   \revert MultiMeasureRest.direction
    { R1*3 }
    \\
   \revert MultiMeasureRest.direction
    { R1*3 }
  >>
}

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Multi-measure rest markup

Markups attached to a multi-measure rest will be centered above or below it. Long markups attached to multi-measure rests do not cause the measure to expand. To expand a multi-measure rest to fit the markup, use an empty chord with an attached markup before the multi-measure rest. Text attached to a spacer rest in this way is left-aligned to the position where the note would be placed in the measure, but if the measure length is determined by the length of the text, the text will appear to be centered.

\relative c' {
  \compressMMRests {
    \textLengthOn
    <>^\markup { [MAJOR GENERAL] }
    R1*19
    <>_\markup { \italic { Cue: ... it is yours } }
    <>^\markup { A }
    R1*30^\markup { [MABEL] }
    \textLengthOff
    c4^\markup { CHORUS } d f c
  }
}

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See also

Music Glossary: multi-measure rest.

Notation Reference: Durations, Scaling durations, Compressing empty measures, Text, Formatting text, Text scripts.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: MultiMeasureRest, MultiMeasureRestNumber, MultiMeasureRestScript, MultiMeasureRestText.

Known issues and warnings

Fingerings over multi-measure rests (e.g., R1*10-4) may result in the fingering numeral colliding with the bar counter numeral.

There is no way to automatically condense multiple ordinary rests into a single multi-measure rest.

Multi-measure rests do not take part in rest collisions.


LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.14 (development-branch).