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While reading about tuplets recently, I came across the notion of a ratio for a tuplet. As shown in this picture, for example, a 3 eighth note to 2 eighth note tuplet would replace two eighth notes with three eighth notes.

various triplet notations

This got me wondering, what if the ratio was reversed? Could I replace 3 eighth notes with 2? Can a tuplet make notes longer or are they exclusively used to divide notes?

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This is fairly common in 6/8 time, for example.

X: 1
T: Duplets in 6/8
M: 6/8
K: none
V:V1
V:V2
%%score (V1 | V2)
[V:V1][K:none clef=perc stafflines=1] BBB BBB | (2BB (2BB |
[V:V2][K:none clef=perc stafflines=1] BBB BBB | BBB  BBB  |

The upper staff's second measure is written in duplets, with the lower staff showing the rhythmic alignment. Each of the duplet eighth notes is 1.5 beats long, rather than the 1 beat given in the time signature.

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  • 2
    They can also be notated in 6/8 as two dotted eighth notes beamed together. One advantage to this is you can see the 16th subdivision, 1,3,5 for eighths and 1,4 for the tuplets. Jan 31 at 9:04
  • 12
    I've always found it strange that tuplets are notated with the number of notes they actually have (which is immediately obvious anyway), and not the number of notes whose space they take (which isn't obvious at all, and can be quite hard to determine)…
    – gidds
    Jan 31 at 18:28
  • So this is a 2-3 polyrhythm?
    – Kaz
    Feb 1 at 7:22
  • @Kaz Yes, the second measure, because the upper part has 2 against the lower part's 3.
    – Aaron
    Feb 1 at 7:27

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