Triplets Made Easy

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You may have noticed that the divisions of beats you normally come across are in factors of 2 (½, ¼, ⅛, etc..) (the technical term for these rhythms is duplets). However, if a beat is to be divided into 3 then it will be shown as a triplet.

What does a Triplet in Music Look Like

A triplet is written by putting a “3” over the top of the notes to show that 3 notes should fit in where there would normally only be 2. So in this example the “3” over the top of the crotchets means that 3 crotchets adds up to 2 beats instead of 3.

Triplet Quarter Notes

Play Triplets Audio Example 1

In this next example, the “3” over the top of the quavers means that 3 quavers add up to 1 beat instead of 1 and a half.

Triplet Eighth Notes

Play Triplets Audio Example 2

Any duplet rhythm can be divided into triplets (so you could have triplet semiquavers, triplet demisemiquavers or, conversely, triplet minims)

Playing Triplets

Playing triplets can be a bit tricky, particularly if they appear suddenly in a piece of music which mainly contains duplets. However, I am confident that if you follow this easy 4-step formula then you will soon get to grips with them:

  1. Have a look at the piece of music you are going to play to see if there are some triplets on the score.
  2. Try clapping the rhythms of these sections of the piece. Don’t worry about the pitch yet – this will enable your mind to concentrate fully on the rhythm. Try counting “1-2-3” to divide the beat up – this will help get you mind into thinking in threes.
  3. Once you are confident that you have achieved step “2” then go onto practice playing these sections of the piece.
  4. Only now attempt to play the whole piece incorporating the triplet sections.

If you follow this formula then you will find that playing triplets comes quite easily. A little bit of practice goes a very long way when learning rhythms.
All the best,

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