Musical triplets on the staff.
Musical triplets written differently. Image © Brandy Kraemer


A triplet – a type of “tuplet” – is a group of three notes played inside another note-length; a portion of musical time that’s been split rhythmically into three equal parts1. A triplet is identified by a small ‘3’ above or below its note beam, bracket, or slur (see image).

A triplet group’s total duration is equal to two of the original note-values contained within2. For example, an eighth-note triplet spans two eighth note beats (one quarter-note); a quarter-note triplet spans the length of a half-note; and so on:

► (View notation for the above examples)

1  A triplet’s contents may not always appear equal; they can be modified in value, so long as the total length of the note-grouping remains intact; learn more:

2  Any individual note or rest inside a triplet has been reduced to 2/3 its original length.

See irrational rhythm.


Also Known As:

  • terzina (It)
  • triolet (Fr)
  • Triole (Ger)


Pronunciation: trip'-lət