tuplet

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.