Tuplets

Tuplets are made from a music expression with the \tuplet command, multiplying the speed of the music expression by a fraction:

\tuplet fraction { music }

The fraction’s numerator will be printed over or under the notes, optionally with a bracket. The most common tuplets are triplets (3 notes played within the duration normally allowed for 2).

\relative {
  a'2 \tuplet 3/2 { b4 4 4 }
  c4 c \tuplet 3/2 { b4 a g }
}

[image of music]

When entering long passages of tuplets, having to write a separate \tuplet command for each group is inconvenient. It is possible to specify the duration of one tuplet group directly before the music in order to have the tuplets grouped automatically:

\relative {
  g'2 r8 \tuplet 3/2 8 { cis16 d e e f g g f e }
}

[image of music]

Tuplet brackets may be manually placed above or below the staff:

\relative {
  \tupletUp \tuplet 3/2 { c''8 d e }
  \tupletNeutral \tuplet 3/2 { c8 d e }
  \tupletDown \tuplet 3/2 { f,8 g a }
  \tupletNeutral \tuplet 3/2 { f8 g a }
}

[image of music]

Tuplets may be nested:

\relative {
  \autoBeamOff
  c''4 \tuplet 5/4 { f8 e f \tuplet 3/2 { e[ f g] } } f4
}

[image of music]

Modifying nested tuplets which begin at the same musical moment must be done with \tweak; see section \tweak and \single.

Tuplet brackets may be replaced with slurs, as is preferred in many older editions:

\relative {
  \tuplet 3/2 4 {
    \override TupletBracket.tuplet-slur = ##t
    c'4 e8 d4 f8
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = ##t
    e f g f e d
  } c1
}

[image of music]

By default, a bracket is only printed if all of the notes it spans are not beamed together; in some cases (for example with slurs, as in the example above) it may be preferable to change that behavior, through the bracket-visibility property as detailed in one of the following snippets.

More generally, either or both the TupletBracket and TupletNumber objects may be hidden or shown as explained in Visibility of objects; however, a more flexible way of modifying the duration of notes without printing a tuplet bracket is also introduced in Scaling durations.

Predefined commands

\tupletUp, \tupletDown, \tupletNeutral.

Selected Snippets

Entering several tuplets using only one \tuplet command

The property tupletSpannerDuration sets how long each of the tuplets contained within the brackets after \tuplet should last. Many consecutive tuplets can then be placed within a single \tuplet expression, thus saving typing.

There are several ways to set tupletSpannerDuration. The command \tupletSpan sets it to a given duration, and clears it when instead of a duration \default is specified. Another way is to use an optional argument with \tuplet.

\relative c' {
  \time 2/4
  \tupletSpan 4
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8^"\\tupletSpan 4" c c c c c }
  \tupletSpan \default
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8^"\\tupletSpan \\default" c c c c c }
  \tuplet 3/2 4 { c8^"\\tuplet 3/2 4 {...}" c c c c c }
}

[image of music]

Changing the tuplet number

By default, only the numerator of the tuplet number is printed over the tuplet bracket, i.e., the numerator of the argument to the \tuplet command.

Alternatively, num:den of the tuplet number may be printed, or the tuplet number may be suppressed altogether.

\relative c'' {
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
  \override TupletNumber.text = #tuplet-number::calc-fraction-text
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
  \omit TupletNumber
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
}

[image of music]

Non-default tuplet numbers

LilyPond also provides formatting functions to print tuplet numbers different than the actual fraction, as well as to append a note value to the tuplet number or tuplet fraction.

\relative c'' {
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::non-default-tuplet-denominator-text 7)
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::non-default-tuplet-fraction-text 12 7)
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::append-note-wrapper
      (tuplet-number::non-default-tuplet-fraction-text 12 7)
      (ly:make-duration 3 0))
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::append-note-wrapper
      tuplet-number::calc-denominator-text
      (ly:make-duration 2 0))
  \tuplet 3/2  { c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::append-note-wrapper
      tuplet-number::calc-fraction-text
      (ly:make-duration 2 0))
  \tuplet 3/2  { c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::fraction-with-notes
      (ly:make-duration 2 1) (ly:make-duration 3 0))
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::non-default-fraction-with-notes 12
      (ly:make-duration 3 0) 4 (ly:make-duration 2 0))
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
}

[image of music]

Controlling tuplet bracket visibility

The default behavior of tuplet-bracket visibility is to print a bracket unless there is a beam of the same length as the tuplet.

To control the visibility of tuplet brackets, set the property bracket-visibility to either #t (always print a bracket), if-no-beam (only print a bracket if there is no beam) or #f (never print a bracket). The latter is in fact equivalent to omitting the TupletBracket object altogether from the printed output.

music = \relative c'' {
  \tuplet 3/2 { c16[ d e } f8]
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 d e }
  \tuplet 3/2 { c4 d e }
}

\new Voice {
  \relative c' {
    \override Score.TextMark.non-musical = ##f
    \textMark "default" \music
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = #'if-no-beam
    \textMark \markup \typewriter "'if-no-beam" \music
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = ##t
    \textMark \markup \typewriter "#t" \music
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = ##f
    \textMark \markup \typewriter "#f" \music
    \omit TupletBracket
    \textMark \markup \typewriter "omit" \music
  }
}

\paper { tagline = ##f }

[image of music]

Printing tuplet brackets on the note head side

Whichever option you choose for controlling the tuplet bracket visibility, it will show or hide the tuplet bracket irrespectively of tuplet bracket placement (stem side or note head side). However, when placing the tuplet bracket on the note head side some authors recommend always printing the tuplet bracket. The option visible-over-note-heads can be used to achieve this.

music = \relative c'' {
  \tupletNeutral \tuplet 3/2 { c16[ d e } f8]
  \tupletUp \tuplet 3/2 { c8 d e }
}

\new Voice {
  \relative c' {
    \time 2/4
    \override TupletBracket.visible-over-note-heads = ##t
    \override Score.TextMark.non-musical = ##f
    { \textMark \markup "default" \music }
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = #'if-no-beam
    { \textMark \markup \typewriter "'if-no-beam" \music }
  }
}

[image of music]

Permitting line breaks within beamed tuplets

This artificial example shows how both manual and automatic line breaks may be permitted to within a beamed tuplet. Note that such off-beat tuplets have to be beamed manually.

\paper { tagline = ##f }
\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    % Permit line breaks within tuplets
    \remove "Forbid_line_break_engraver"
    % Allow beams to be broken at line breaks
    \override Beam.breakable = ##t
  }
}
\relative c'' {
  a8
  \repeat unfold 5 { \tuplet 3/2 { c[ b a] } }
  % Insert a manual line break within a tuplet
  \tuplet 3/2 { c[ b \bar "" \break a] }
  \repeat unfold 5 { \tuplet 3/2 { c[ b a] } }
  c8
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: triplet, tuplet, polymetric.

Learning Manual: Tweaking methods.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, Visibility of objects, Time administration, Scaling durations, \tweak and \single, Polymetric notation.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: TupletBracket, TupletNumber, TimeScaledMusic.


LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.13 (development-branch).