A tuplet is a group of notes with an irregular duration to what's permitted by the given time signature.

Figure 1: A crotchet triplet.

Every tuplet has a number written with it which indicates how many irregular units the tuplet contains, as well as how many units of the regular rhythm the duplet will span for:

Figure 2: Our crotchet triplet spans for the duration of two regular crotchets.

The following is a list of tuplets with how many regular units each spans for:

Tuplet Name Contains Spans For Diagram
Duplet 2 3
Triplet 3 2
Quadruplet 4 6
Quintuplet 5 4
Sextuplet 6 4
Septuplet 7 4
Octuplet 8 4
Nontuplet 9 8


Sometimes a tuplet with an irregular ratio is required and can be written in place of the tuplet number.

Figure 3: A quaver quintuplet which spans for 8 regular quavers.

When interpreting a tuplet with a ratio, the left and right numbers indicate:

  • Left number: how many units the tuplet will contain; also gives the tuplet its appropriate name (e.g. duplet, triple, quadruplet, etc.)

  • Right number: how many units of the regular rhythm the tuplet will span for

Also see Time Signatures | Tremolos.

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