An n-tuplet is a division of a given pulse in n even parts; hence, a quintuplet is playing 5 notes in the space of one, usually a quarter note, as a 13-tuplet is dividing a note in 13 even parts.

What I don't get, is that I have seen some tuplets put as 2/5 or 3/5 (often when dealing with polyrythms) — that is, playing tuplets of a certain number of figures, rather than unit divisions.

Could someone explain to me this, and how to feel and play them?

  • After answering your question, I wonder if I misunderstood. Do you mean "3:2", meaning "play 3 in the time of 2", or do you mean "2/5" (which I haven't encountered; please include an example if possible), which presumably means "divide into five units, but only play two of them." (Or neither, in which case, please clarify the question.)
    – Aaron
    May 28, 2021 at 22:37
  • i will do, when i am at home, i saw it on a guitar book May 29, 2021 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


Tuplets notated as X:Y mean

Play these X notes in the time normally allotted to Y of the same type of note.

Thus 2:5 written over an eighth-note tuplet in 4/4 time would mean "play these two eighth notes over 2.5 beats."

Similary, 3:5 written over a eighth-note tuplet in 6/8 time would mean "play these two eighth notes over 12/3 beats (or 5 beats, depending how one is counting).

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