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Musical tuplets in piano music.

Musical triplets seen with a note beam, a horizontal bracket, and a slur.

Image © Brandy Kraemer
Definition: A tuplet is note-grouping that is played inside the length of another note-value; a division of musical time that allows for irrational rhythm.

A tuplet is grouped together by a beam, slur, or bracket, and is marked with a small number or ratio. Tuplets may contain an even or uneven number of notes:

  • Duplet (2 notes): An eighth-note duplet spans the length of three normal eighth notes.

  • Triplet (3): An eighth-note triplet spans one quarter-note.

  • Quadruplet (4): An eighth-note quadruplet spans three or six eighth-notes.

  • Quintuplet (5): Commonly played in the length of four of its note-type.

  • Sextuplet (6): Six notes in place of four. In some rhythmic patterns, sextuplets may be indistinguishable from triplets, leaving it disputed among theorists. The exact placement of the downbeat(s) inside a sextuplet can be modified using horizontal brackets.

  • Septuplet (7): Seven notes played in the time of four, six, or eight; specified by a ratio (7:6, 7:8, respectively. 7:4 is implied in common time).

Go to the Piano Tuplet Walk-Through: Learn how to count and notate tuplets (with audio).

Also Known As:
  • gruppo irregolare (It)
  • division exceptionnelle (Fr)

Pronunciation: two'-plət
Common Misspellings: Often confused with duplet or triplet.

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