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.
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.
Any duplet rhythm can be divided into triplets (so you could have triplet semiquavers, triplet demisemiquavers or, conversely, triplet minims)
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:
- Have a look at the piece of music you are going to play to see if there are some triplets on the score.
- 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.
- Once you are confident that you have achieved step “2” then go onto practice playing these sections of the piece.
- 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.