Suomeksi | In English

The concept of a bar

The concept tactus was known in music literature as early as the Renaissance, but the modern concept of a bar was not introduced until the Baroque when the invention of the bar line occurred. The duration of a bar is indicated by the time signature. The concept "bar" is often defined graphically as the space between two bar lines. A bar can be defined in another way as well; in a composition starting with an anacrusis or an incomplete bar (a term used in Finland), the "musical bars" overlap the bars denoted with bar lines.

A composition starting with an anacrusis has no rest at the beginning. The last bar (an incomplete bar, too) will often end before the last beat of the last bar, in order to keep the number of bars in the entire piece at a whole number. An anacrusis at the beginning of a composition is not numbered; notation software numbers it with a nought (0). Upbeat or pickup are other terms used for notes beginning a phrase before the barline.

An incomplete bar has a rest at the beginning, making the last bar complete. It is also assigned a number and its duration is usually a half of a complete bar. The rest at the beginning of certain compositions (for example, several of J. S. Bach's two-part inventions) has an intuitive, metrical accent. A rest at the beginning of a composition is impossible to hear; musicians often tend to express it with movement or breathing so that the listener will acquire an idea of the metrics in the composition. The term anacrusis with its equivalents is found in several languages (upbeat, anacrusis, arsis, upptakt), but the term "incomplete bar" is typically Finnish music theory tradition.