I have a song that starts with a time signature of 3/4 in 110 bpm. Then there's a quarter note triplet based section that goes like this:

123 123 123 123 123 1 | 123 123 123 123 123 1 | etc

where 123 is a full quarter note triplet.

This gives me something like 4/6?? which is not regular.

Could be represented like: 123 412 341 234 123 4 | ...

The only way I found to have this on a metronome is to do metric modulation and have a 4/4 in 165 bpm (1.333 * 110).

Is there another to represent this? What am I missing here?

EDIT: sorry if it's confusing, it's hard to explain...

Basically my bar should restart after 16 triplet notes, if you count it in quarter notes it's the 5 + 1/3

o.. o.. o.. o.. o.. o | ..o ..o ..o ..o ..o . | .o. .o. .o. .o. .o. . | o.. o.. o.. o.. o.. o

o = metronome quarter note . = triplet

  • 2
    I don't understand your boldface digits. Are they not supposed to represent the quarter beat? Anyway, eletronic metronomes frequently offer triplets directly for the given BPM.
    – guidot
    Mar 22, 2021 at 14:44
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    Could you provide any more details of the song that you "have"? Musical notation? Recording? What are you trying to achieve? Write down the rhythm? If you made any attempts, can you post the example of music notation you came up with? Mar 22, 2021 at 15:02
  • 1
    I find the question confusing too, most importantly the "quarter note triplet" indication which doesn't add up with the numbering. Providing a small recording could be useful to better understand what you mean. Mar 22, 2021 at 15:03
  • A measure of 3/4 has the same duration as 4.5 quarter-note triplets or 9 eighth-note triplets. (The note that has 1/16 the duration of a 3/4 measure is the dotted 32nd note.) This question seems to indicate that each measure contains 16 of them. It therefore seems that the problem you're trying to solve is more fundamental than that: you've probably chosen an incorrect subdivision, and possibly an incorrect meter, to represent the music. Can you give us some more context?
    – phoog
    Mar 22, 2021 at 15:40
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5 Answers 5


After listening to the recording and reading the other answers I understand that you would like to notate something like this: enter image description here

Now this might be hell to read, especially the last incomplete triplet. Also hell to notate. One solution is to write it with a tempo change, similarly to what Neal suggested. Perhaps it would be even more straight forward if you alter the meter in the first section, like this: enter image description here In this case both sections are reasonably easy to read, and it's apparent how the lengths of the notes in the first section relate to those in the second one.

  • But again this depends on whether he wants the final sixteenth note accented or not. Mar 23, 2021 at 11:38
  • Thanks for you answer! I'm not understand if in the second image there's still a tempo change from 1 section to 2 section. If not, that would be cool and much easier but I'm not getting the 1 section timing. Mar 23, 2021 at 11:39
  • @DanielCosta Now I realised I messed up (but I got 2 votes, so not only I overlooked it!) The second measure was twice too fast, now it should be OK: 3 eight notes in the second measure equal a dotted quarter note in the first measure, so now no tempo changes are necessary, only meter change. Mar 23, 2021 at 15:13
  • @CarlWitthoft That's right, but I leave it to OP to decide. I think I provided a reasonable starting point. Also I think the main question was how to relate the first and the second section to each other; I focused on addressing that. Mar 23, 2021 at 15:15

A modification to Neal's answer.
enter image description here If you have a group of 16, I would really assume 16th notes in 4/4 come to mind, even before you mention triplets.
I think it is much easier to read an eighth triplet equals a sixteenth. It doesn't require any calculation.
You could sub-beam where the accents are to a single beam / partial single beam. But it's not always "liked". I like the sub-beaming, but maybe better without as a beaming of four is easy enough to read.

  • I don' think I can represent this in a metronome without tempo changes but it's pretty easy to read Mar 23, 2021 at 15:19

Today, I found out that the very common beat pattern that I mentioned in my answer has a name. (I knew it had to!) The section that is confusing you sounds like the Tresillo rhythm.

If you search this website for that phrase, you'll find a handful of posts that mention it. I recommend you look at these Q&A: What is this beat and why is it so popular; Different way of “grouping” eighth notes. They are describing almost down the T what you are playing in that section.

Original answer continues below:

How you intend to notate this depends on how you intend the groove to feel. I listened to your audio sample, and the best indication here is that your problem is merely with the metronome.

First pattern and second pattern of your audio sample

The rhythm of the first eight bars is on the left; the rhythm of the remaining bars is on the right. The difficulty you had in describing it notwithstanding, the pattern you are utilizing is extremely common in contemporary music. It's just about everywhere.

Extremely common rhythm, two durations

What sounds, to you, like 5 triplets with a partial triplet at the end (or however you wish to describe it) is almost certainly that figure on the right. The accents account for the "5 triplets" sound, and the final beat (of 4 sixteenth notes) of the bar accounts for the remaining "1/3" (that still is confusing to me). The reason it "lines up" after several measures is just basic math. I probably don't even have the math correct on the tempo, just be forewarned. I guessed. I do music, not math.

This gets back to the groove.

I found myself nodding along. I enjoyed the sample. I grooved. The metronome was just keeping time in the first 8 bars. Thereafter, it just killed the groove. Attempting to fit your groove to a strict timing structure of the metronome (in this case, calling it some Frankenstein's monster of 3/4) is asking for a headache---or, asking on Stack Exchange. For what it's worth, if you didn't have the metronome playing at the same time in that audio sample, and if the metronome weren't to be considered at all, the rhythm described above is what almost everybody here would conclude.

It is likely going to be much easier to figure out how to change time signatures in your DAW than to erect some convoluted solution to the timing of your music that requires it to be in 3/4 the entire time without changing the tempo.

  • If the first section is in 110 BPM then the second one would be rather in 82.5 BPM, not 100 BPM. Length of the sixteen note in the second measure equals eight-note triplet in the first one. Mar 23, 2021 at 2:28
  • Thanks for your answer Neal. I don't know a lot of theory or notation so I thought there was another way to represent this. As you suggested, the simpler way to represent this is transition as a tempo change to 165 bpm (8-notes) or 82.5 bpm (16-notes) as @user10791505 suggested - making the 110 bpm triplets (8-notes and 16-notes respectively. Mar 23, 2021 at 10:53
  • For the groove I think the drums can keep accenting those kind of triplets and do some funny stuff Mar 23, 2021 at 10:54
  • I think you're interpreting what you heard, which may have been played incorrectly in the first place. Mar 23, 2021 at 11:37
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    @DanielCosta - I edited the answer to provide a name for the rhythm that it sounds like you're playing. There's an especially helpful answer here: music.stackexchange.com/a/56172/32746, namely: "approximates a triplet without actually being a triplet."
    – Neal
    Mar 23, 2021 at 15:41

So, 123 is one beat (one crotchet or 1/4 note), and I'm presuming the 1 at the end of the bar is a whole crotchet.

That makes each bar 6/4 - 6 crotchet beats per bar. 5 lots of triplets and one whole beat at the end will make 6 beats total.

The song starts in 3/4, tempo crotchet=110bpm.

Problem is does that original crotchet (=110bpm) continue to be the same tempo in 6/4? It appears that all you've done is make each bar twice as long as it was at the start.

By keeping the metronome at 110, instead of having 3 clicks per bar, you will have 6. It's hardly worth adjusting the metronome to click on each triplet note - it would be clicking at 330bpm, and wouldn't help much, if at all, possible.

So keep metronome at 110, and play the triplets so that 3 match to one metronome click.

  • no, the 1 in the end of the bar is one triplet note. Then its restarts, that's the tricky part. Mar 22, 2021 at 17:13
  • So, basically this answer is completely wrong, based on a wrong assumption? If so, it'll be deleted.
    – Tim
    Mar 22, 2021 at 17:18
  • While what you said is correct, your assumption was wrong, so i guess yes. Its 5 lots of triples + 1 triplet and then restart. Mar 22, 2021 at 17:36
  • So 16 equal notes, but grouped 3,3,3,3,3,1? And - is the edit accurate - '+2/3'. I make it '+1/3'. The term triplet means three of. A note by itself can't be a triplet.
    – Tim
    Mar 22, 2021 at 17:39
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    I understand. Counting to 3 can get tricky!
    – Tim
    Mar 22, 2021 at 17:53

So what you have is 16/8 but with a designated nonuniform "beat" pattern. I would recommend instead a compound meter, i.e. 15/8 // 1/8 . This makes your beat locations unambiguous, as well as simplifying the fact that the final note length is equal to your "triplet" lengths.

Alternatively, you could write triplets in a 5/4 // 1/8 meter and add the instruction above that the 1/8 measures have a beat length equal to 1/3 of the previous quarter note length, but I find that rather bizarre.

  • 1
    Written out, it's probably best kept simple, with accents where required. Much easier to count and read that way.
    – Tim
    Mar 22, 2021 at 17:55
  • But isn't 16/8 for 16 eight-notes? I don't have eight notes, I have 5 triplets + 1/3 triplet Mar 22, 2021 at 18:21
  • @DanielCosta you have 16 notes of equal length. You want them in a triplet rhythm, which is the "common" way music in 6/8, 9/8 , etc. is played. You don't have "one-third of a triplet"; you just have one more note of the same length as the others. Mar 23, 2021 at 11:34
  • @Tim putting in the accents on the first couple bars and then notating "sim[ilar]" is a good way to go. Compound meter is not all that unusual, at least in 20th century music for orchestral instruments. Mar 23, 2021 at 11:36
  • @CarlWitthoft then wouldn't this require a tempo change from previous section? Mar 23, 2021 at 11:49

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