What is the time-value of a single triplet note?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Frohman, Jan 3, 2014.

1. Frohman

Nov 24, 2009
So I was joking around in score writing website, making parts and drum parts for a intro bass line I had written. Guitar was cake, but writing interesting drum parts that are not impossible to play, can be a real challenge.

Here's the score: http://www.noteflight.com/scores/view/b30d77250ffa8a4c733a67448523a48faec3c938

I was just experimenting with whatever ideas that came up, and I made a sixteenth triplet rythm with two dotted notes per triplet and ended up with a straight sixteenth note rythm (Bar #11). I was baffled by this at first, but when I considered the mathematics of it, it started making sense. I get that a triplet is a perfect three-division of a note, and if you split the middle one into the last and the first, you will get a straight rythm.

At a later time though, I wanted the last note of a triplet to accentuate the 2 in the rythm (Bar #15). Luckily, the score writer let me move it to the exact spot I wanted it, or else I would be lost.

I'm not even sure it's completely on the spot if you go down on a micro scale, which makes me wonder:

1) Does a single triplet note have a time-value other than "triplet-note"? Like swing eights can have the value of a "Dotted eight + Sixteenth".
2) How would you write a triplet note without using the _3_-clam over it?
3) If it's impossible, what's the closest you can get?

Did you understand any of that? English isn't my first language and so on...

2. Dave WSupporting Member

Mar 1, 2007
White Plains
1. Triplets are three notes strung together. There are no single triplet notes. Their time value would depend on what type of triplet you are writing, I.E. a 3 quarter note triplet = 1 half note, a 3 eighth note triplet = 1 quarter note, etc.

2. Since it's 3 notes, you need to write out 3 notes with the bar and '3' written above it for proper notation.

3. See #2

3. MIMike

Jan 1, 2013
West MI
Depending on the time signature, the value is usually 1.

4. Frohman

Nov 24, 2009
1) Yeah I've done 4 years of musical education, so I know what a triplet is. It is not notes strung together, it is a rythmical pattern, consisting of three equal notes that sums 1/3 of the subdivision above or 2/3 of the same subdivison, straight. What is interesting is that if you play triplets in one tempo, they mark the beats of a coexisting 3/4-beat with a 66% higher tempo. I.e. 4th triplets in 90bpm outlines a 3/4 in 150bpm, which goes to show that triplets are three individual notes with their own rythmic value.

2) Yes, but let me rephrase the question "Is there a way to write triplets, or make a rythmic pattern in a score writing software that plays out just like 3 notes marked with as a triplet would?"
3) Let me rephrase again: Since 3 is individable with 2, I assume the answer is "no", so I am wondering "how far down in the subdivisions would you need to go to get something that sounds indistinguishable from a real triplet at... let's say 115 bpm?"

6. Frohman

Nov 24, 2009
One single note in a triplet pattern equals one third of the subdivison above. An eigth triplet pattern would be 1/3+1/3+1/3 of a fourth note. This is constant for all time signatures.

7. megafiddle

May 25, 2011
What were you trying to do exactly? Is the problem that the website does not play triplets correctly?

You can have a single triplet note. You just have to replace the unwanted notes with triplet rests.
So 16th rests would be used to replace the notes in a 16th triplet. Or an 8th rest to replace two
of the notes. You still need to identify the group as a triplet.

If you try to do it with a special time signature, then all the notes will be triplets. Not the best way.
You would need a signature of 24/16 for 16th note triplets, and a very high tempo.

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8. M0ses

Sep 11, 2009
Eastern Wisconsin
To answer question 2,
You can't. The western system of rhythmic notation is pathetically limited to dividing things into two.
Don't get me started on Western notation. It is THE prime reason all western music sounds the same.

9. megafiddle

May 25, 2011
I believe it's mathematically impossible to construct a triplet note exactly from non-triplet durations.
A dotted 32nd note is pretty close to a 16th triplet note, though.

But notation is not limited like that. It does have triplets, dotted notes, tied notes, rests, etc.

I would say that if anything sounds alike, it is due to the formula music market - producing more
and more of whatever has worked (and sold) in the past.

Now, a song in notated form will sound like crap if it is played exactly as written. So it does have
a limitation in that sense. Notation is a little too crude to capture things like feel. One exception is
techno music, where the precise timing of the sequencer is what is actually wanted.

No one plays notated music precisely as written, and no attempts to notate music precisely as it sounds.
And familiarity with a notation system is not a requirement for composing great music music. I imagine
there are those that can compose completely on paper. But still, first there is the music, then there is the
notation.

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10. BassChuck

Nov 15, 2005
Cincinnati
Are you trying to determine the duration of the note, or the starting point? You can always divide a note into a triplet and then substitute the two notes you don't want with rest.

11. BassChuck

Nov 15, 2005
Cincinnati
I don't get how you can say this. I know a lot of non-Western music is more complex rhythmically, but to say western music is limited to divisions of two is just not so.

12. Spectrum

Apr 10, 2011
Alexandria, Virginia
Since a quarter note is a 4th, a triplet would be a 12th.

Right?

13. Frohman

Nov 24, 2009
I am trying to find out how far down in the subdivisions I have to go to be able to position note 2 or 3 in a triplet anywhere I want. You can see it on bar #15, where the software luckily placed the triplet perfectly, but it had to split a 128th note to do it.

Yeah, it is. Never thought of it that way, thanks!

Yeah, I would say I'm trying to determine the duration of the note, without using the triplet markers. I know it's mathematically impossible to write, but how close can you get?

I like the western notation system for its simplicity, but it definitley has its weaknesses. Sometimes I miss having the rythm scales of India - seems like a great deal of fun.

14. Roscoe East

Aug 22, 2011
Well...that's not actually true. It's just that the examples in the literature are so few and far between that one rarely encounters these isolated partials unless one plays cutting-edge contemporary music.

But since the middle of the 20th Century composers have used fewer (and/or greater) than three triplet components, and they usually indicate it with a tuplet-style bracket that is labeled "n of 3", where n = the number of partials being played. (Pierre Boulez is probably the most well known user of this sort of device..I think I've also encountered it in Karlheinz Stockhausen's writing.)

So for example a single note that has the rhythmic duration of one third of a beat would get a bracket over it labeled "1 of 3". Or you could have four notes grouped under a bracket labeled "4 of 3", and that figure would be four evenly-spaced notes in the space of one-and-a-third beats. (Note that this last example is not the same as a 4:3 tuplet.)

The net effect of these isolated triplet partials is to offset subsequent rhythmic phrases from the "normal" meter. It does require some clever beaming, barring, or time signature math to get things to line up in the score, but it can be very effective for creating a sense of what Anthony Braxton refers to as "Opposition Space", where instruments are clearly playing something designed to sound together yet never concerted or even overtly interwoven.

15. Frohman

Nov 24, 2009
Wow! Thanks Roscoe, do you have access to scores using these tuplets? I really want to see and hear it.

16. Spectrum

Apr 10, 2011
Alexandria, Virginia
So I'm no highly-trained music theorist but I've always thought that when you add swing to 8th notes you basically get triplets missing the middle note of the three.

This assumes that you add that same amount of swing every time you play or write it down, of course. I have seen drum machines where you can vary the amount of swing and come up with something way different...

17. Stick_PlayerBanned

Nov 13, 2009
Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
Disclosures:
Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
In 2/4 time, isn't a Quarter-note equal to half of the measure?

In 3/4 time, isn't a Quarter-note equal to one third of the measure?

In 5/4 time, isn't a Quarter-note equal to one-fifth of the measure?

In 3/8 time, isn't a Quarter-note equal to two-thirds of the measure?

A triplet Half-note, a triplet Eighth-note, a triplet Sixteenth-note...?

Etc...

18. Frohman

Nov 24, 2009
There are many kinds of swing notes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swing_(jazz_performance_style)#Swing_note

The triplet with a rest in the middle equals the boogiewoogie-swing feel, but I've only seen it used when transcribing bass lines. Normally, the notation says "in swing", but it may have a depth description saying: 8th = Dotted 8th + 16th or 8th = Triplet 8th + rest + 8th

19. Roscoe East

Aug 22, 2011
Look for a copy of Boulez' "Le Marteau Sans Maitre", I'm pretty sure that's where I first encountered this device.

20. FebsSupporting Member

May 7, 2007
This is not directly related to your question, but I think that this score would be much easier to read if you wrote it mostly in 3/4, with the occasionally 2/4 bar.

Try this:

Eliminate the first two beats
Make the remaining 2 beats of measure 1 a 2/4 bar
Make the 8 beats of measures 2 and 3 into bars of 3/4, 3/4, and 2/4
Make the 9 beats of measures 4 and 5 into 3 bars of 3/4
Make the 8 beats of measures 6 and 7 into bars of 3/4, 3/4 and 2/4
Make the 11 beats of measures 8-9 into bars of 3/4, 3/4, 3/4 and 2/4
Make the 8 beats of measures 10-11 into bars of 3/4, 3/4 and 2/4
Make the 9 beats of measures 12-13 into 3 bars of 3/4
Make the 10 beats of measures 14-15 into 2 measures of 3/4 and 1 measure of 4/4
Make the 9 beats of measures 16-17 into 3 measures of 3/4

This is an example of what your bass part would look like if you adjusted the meter in this way:

Dec 25, 2011