Music theory > Duration of sounds > Triplets

Triplets

In music theory, you will find these terms: Irrational rhythm, artificial division, or abnormal divisions. Here we will use the term of tuplet. All these terms are applied to rhythms that involves dividing the beat into a different way from that usually permitted by the time signature.

For example, with a 4/4 time signature time signature, you can only divide each by beat by a multiple of 2, so 1 beat can contains 2 eighth note (quaver), 4 sixteenth note (semiquaver), 8 thirty-second note (demisemiquaver), 16 sixty-fourth note (hemidemisemiquaver), or 32 one hundred and twenty-eighth note (semihemidemisemiquaver). Normally, in such a time signature, you can't divide the beat by 3, 5, 7, or 9, but the only way to do it is to use tuplets.

The most common tuplet is the triplet.

Definition of the triplet

A triplet is a tuplet that permit to divide the beat (or more than 1 beat) by 3 in simple meters.

The rule is: A triplet can put 3 notes in the equivalent of 2. Or more exactly, A triplet can put 3 notes of equal length in the equivalent of the duration of 2 notes of equal length.

The most famous triplet: The eighth note triplet united states of america (quaver triplet united kingdom)

Below is an eighth note triplet united states of america (quaver triplet united kingdom):

eighth note triplet (quaver triplet)

With an eighth note triplet united states of america (quaver triplet united kingdom), you can performe 3 eighth note (quaver) in the equivalent of the duration of 2 eighth note (quaver), so you can divide a beat by 3 in a simple meter time signature.

Example with the famous Piano Sonata No.14, Op.27 No.2 from Ludwig van Beethoven:


Wow! Even with synthesized sound, it is amazing! What a genius!

Another example of with the movement Mars from The planets composed by Gustav Holst


The quarter note triplet united states of america (crotchet triplet united kingdom)

Below is a quarter note triplet united states of america (crotchet triplet united kingdom):

Quarter note triplet , Crotchet triplet

With an quarter note triplet united states of america (crotchet triplet united kingdom), you can performe 3 quarter note (crotchet) in the equivalent of the duration of 2 quarter note (crotchet), so you can divide 2 beats by 3 in a simple meter time signature.

Example of quarter note triplets united states of america (crotchet triplets united kingdom):


The half note triplet united states of america (minim triplet united kingdom)

Below is a half note triplet united states of america (minim triplet united kingdom):
half note triplet, minim triplet

With a half note triplet united states of america (minim triplet united kingdom), you can performe 3 half note (minim) in the equivalent of the duration of 2 half note (minim), so you can divide 4 beats by 3 in a simple meter time signature.

Example of half note triplets united states of america (minim triplets united kingdom):


Sixteenth note triplet united states of america (Semiquaver triplet united kingdom)

Below is a sixteenth note triplet united states of america (semiquaver triplet united kingdom):
Sixteenth note triplet, Semiquaver triplet

With a sixteenth note triplet united states of america (semiquaver triplet united kingdom), you can performe 3 sixteenth note (semiquaver) in the equivalent of the duration of 2 sixteenth note (semiquaver), so you can divide 1 beats by 6 in a simple meter time signature.

Example of sixteenth note triplet united states of america (semiquaver triplet united kingdom):


Triplets and rests

Triplets can contains rests, like in this example:

Triplets and rests

Summary of triplets

Below are the most common triplets and their equivalent:

triplets, summary


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