How to Count Triplets in Piano Music
A triplet is a group of three notes played inside the length of two of its note-type. For example, in the time it takes to play two eighth-notes of normal length (or “straight eighths”), the eighth-note triplet is heard:
- Sixteenth-Note Triplet
Equals two sixteenth-notes (or one eighth-note*).
- Quarter-Note Triplet
Equals two quarter-notes (one half-note).
- Half-Note Triplet
Equals one whole-note.
Understanding Complex Musical Triplets
A triplet splits a portion of time into three equal parts. However, these parts can be modified using different note-lengths, music rests, or rhythmic dots – as long as the total length of the note-grouping remains in tact. Look at the images above:
Blues Shuffle (#2): Only two notes in the triplet are heard; the first note being twice as long as the second. This may be notated using two notes of different lengths, or by tying together the first two notes.
Swing Triplets (#3): The middle eighth-note is replaced with a rest (one of the many variations of swing rhythm).