Why don't composers use more rests?

June 30, 2021, 7:30 PM · A celtic fiddler wouldn't know a rest if it tapped him or her on the shoulder and offered a new fiddle.

But I have just listened to Amit Peled (brilliant cellist) play a piece of some four minutes duration, accompanied by a fine pianist, and not a rest was to appear.

Woodwind and brass players see a goodly number of rests, and the music is all the better for it. But string players always seem to face a wall of notes.

The listener needs the rests, even if the musician doesn't.

Replies (18)

June 30, 2021, 7:47 PM · If I get tired I put a rest in anyway.
June 30, 2021, 8:14 PM · Ya, it's a killer. Too many notes, eh? An age old problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_eqxh-Qok
June 30, 2021, 11:16 PM · Or even an old age problem!
July 1, 2021, 2:48 AM · I think because strings are probably more capable of creating different sounds,so they are utilised in a lot of different ways
July 1, 2021, 3:58 AM · Simple: wind players have to breathe in between notes, while we can do it during notes!!!

That said, we should still let our music "breathe" by slight shortenings of the lest note of a phrase.

July 1, 2021, 5:59 AM · You get paid to play, not stand around, dangit!
July 1, 2021, 9:11 AM · String players - aim to be on the inside seat so you can rest while you turn the page!
July 1, 2021, 10:04 AM · Rests are unnecessary - flautists just add a beat to a measure whenever they want to breathe.
July 1, 2021, 10:07 AM · For maximal rest with the least effort, best to sit on the outside paired up with a really clumsy page-turner on the inside!
July 1, 2021, 10:16 AM · Only play stuff that's in IMSLP, then you can print multiple copies, and no page-turning is necessary.
Edited: July 1, 2021, 1:35 PM · It is an aesthetic attitude. Some composers write too dense, "wall-of-sound" style; Wagner, Beethoven S. 9, 1st movement, Schumann Symphonies and the Schubert C maj. S. come to mind. Others want clarity and variety; Berlioz, Verdi.
July 1, 2021, 1:44 PM · The violinist who commission new music were conditioned not to use rests.

I think they were all violinist.com members.

July 1, 2021, 10:23 PM · Perhaps because often the violin is entirely alone but nevertheless providing the musical basis for dancing. Those dancing want to hear something on every beat -- they don't want to be waiting around listening to dead air just because of your high-flown notions of musical sophistication.
July 2, 2021, 12:38 AM · If you like rests, you might enjoy John Cage's three-movement work entitled 4' 33".
July 2, 2021, 2:23 AM · The music is between the notes. Rests are just over-egging the pudding.
July 2, 2021, 1:29 PM · If the rests were too long you would have retrain the viola section :-)
July 3, 2021, 10:42 AM · Carlo - we violists sound terrific during long rests. Don't rain on our parade by suggesting that rests could possibly be too long! :-)
July 3, 2021, 11:44 AM · It is the easiest part of the viola clef, and well worth exploiting.

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