Create Narrow H-Bar Multirests in Finale

Multirests are a key House Style element of all printed music.

Multi-measure rests have evolved over time. The style of multimeasure rest currently in favor is called an “H-bar”.

For over a century, it was common when typesetting music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods to combine and stack whole rest and breve (double whole) rests in different ways to indicate multiple measures of rest. The system was very clear, but a bit verbose, and common practice was to use “H-bar” rests for anything longer than 8 or 9 measures, anyway:

Modern music notation software can still create this look if needed, but it has, for the most part, become antiquated. The old style combined rest symbols have evolved into using a single, simplified multi-measure “H-bar” for all multirests; regardless of duration. This is what the default H-bar multirests produced by Finale look like:

This wide style of H-bar is used by many contemporary music publishers; however, many commercial copying houses prefer the look of a narrower H-bar style which emulates hand copying, albeit typically using some variation of an “engraved style”. You will frequently see this narrower H-bar style in modern parts for film scores, video games and theater music.

For recording sessions, one reason (other than aesthetic preference) for using these narrow H-bars is that if there are stand changes and additions anticipated, this gives the musicians access to some areas of an essentially blank five-line staff to pencil edits in:

The Default H-Bar shape is found in Finale’s Shape Selection Dialog. If you go into Finale’s Document Settings and choose Multimeasure Rests in the left pane, you can actually select ANY shape to be your multi rest H-Bar — that is; a narrow H-Bar shape or anything else.

Here is a link to the narrow H-bar shape used by several commercial copying houses in L.A. using the preferred “engraved” look for recording sessions. Download the file, and open it up in Finale.

Follow the text instructions in the Finale document: Choose File > Save Library… , then use File > Load Library… to import the Shape into your current Finale score; you should be up and running in just a couple of minutes.

If you are more ambitious, or just interested in how to recreate these, it is relatively straightforward to make your own narrow H-bar with an “Engraved Style”, especially if you are already familiar with Finale’s Shape Designer.

Start by making a Duplicate of the Default multirest H-Bar found in the Shape Selection dialog. Open your duplicate in the Shape Designer editor to make the horizontal line narrower (and thicker if you like that look), change the height of the | | ends, or anything else. More information on Finale’s Shape Designer is here.

Once you have imported the Library object or created your own version of the H-Bar, visit Document Settings > Multimeasure rests > Select… to choose the new H-Bar shape.

If you prefer a handwritten look, you are in luck. Finale already includes several variations of narrow multirest shapes in its “Handwritten” Templates and Default Files.

These narrow “handwritten” multirests can add a stylized look to your layouts:

These multi measure shapes are all created from font glyphs in Jazz Font.

Here is a link to the narrow H-bar and “big band” multirest shapes found in Finale’s Handwritten templates.

While we are on the subject of multirests, you see that last shape on the right? Since these shapes are all font glyphs (characters) in Jazz font, this shape is perfect for creating a multi measure rest warning expression for an upcoming multirest at the top of the next page.

If your layout only allows a multirest at the top of a subsequent left-facing page, rather than at the end of the right facing page where you would normally provide the page turn, it’s appropriate to put up a signpost Expression as a warning at the right facing page’s end. This indicates to the players the specific number of bars of rest not yet visible to them at the top of the next page (so they don’t panic in a recording situation where they are typically sight-reading).

It’s very easy to create an expression showing the number of bars of rest the players have for that page turn using the above Jazz font glyph:

Did you know that you can change the multirest H-bar shape for one individual occurrence of a multirest? That’s right. In addition to simply changing its width, multirest shapes can be defined separately from the current selection in Document Settings by selecting the specific rest, then right clicking and choosing Multimeasure Rests > Edit… (You can also navigate to Edit > Multimeasure Rests > Edit… in the main menu to edit a specific multirest). You may never need that last bit of info, but there you go.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it.


(To request that a narrow H-Bar shape be added to Finale’s Shape Selection dialog for Engraved Styles, log into your MakeMusic account here.)

Read more on creating narrow H-bars, numbering one bar rests, multirest spacing for commercial charts, & creating custom multirests here: Take Control of Multirests in Finale

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