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sextuplet

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Definition: A sextuplet is a note-grouping of six, which is played inside the length of four of its note-type. For example, a sextuplet written with eighth-notes spans four normal (or “straight”) eighth-notes.

The rhythmic rules of the sextuplet remain disputed among theorists; variations include the following:
  • True Sextolet: Played as if each note in a triplet were divided into two; the downbeat only occurs on the first note of the sextuplet1.

  • Double Triplets, or “False Sextuplets”: The downbeat occurs on the first and fourth notes, mimicking two sets of triplets; the fourth note may be given a weaker accent to provide distinction between the two group-types.

  • Impartial Sextolet: Resembles a true sextolet, but has a weak accent on the fourth note, and an even weaker accent on the fifth note. This splits the sextuplet into threes, but does not mimic the rhythm of the double triplet.

  • Waltzing Sextuplet, also “Real” or “True2” Sextuplet: Accents fall on the first, third, and fifth notes, creating the same rhythmic feel as groups of two eighth-notes in 3/4 or 6/8 time; or as triplets in which each note has been divided into two.


1 A dictionary of music and musicians Vol. 3 [pg. 478]: Sir George Grove, 1820-1900. Published by Macmillan, London, 1879.

2 A dictionary of musical terms [pg. 177]: Theodore Baker, 1851-1934. Published by G. Schirmer, New York, 1895.

Also Known As:
  • sestolet
  • sestina (It)
  • sextolet (Fr)
  • Sextole (Ger)

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