I'm currently reading the manual to my old synthesizer (Roland MC-505) and for setting the quantization level amongst other settings it displays the note duration on the LCD using the symbols for the crotchet (1/4), quaver (1/8), semi-quaver (1/16), etc... But between each note value there is an additional value that uses the previous note value and subscript numeral three.

So my question is what does that three do to the note value (what fraction of a whole note does it become)? Also is this notation in common usage somewhere outside of old Roland manuals?

I tried hard to answer with google but unfortunately visual questions still aren't really there forte.

EDIT :- Since a picture is worth a thousand words and all that jazz... below is a screen grab from the manual in question.

This how they appear in the manual

  • 2
    a trip to the cigar shop might be in order - this definitely denotes triplet quantizing... Apr 9, 2015 at 21:34
  • Doh! On re-reading the wikipedia entry on Triplets I do agree now... To the person that originally answered previously I apologize for not believing you the first time - if you are able to repost that same answer I would be more than happy to mark it as the correct one (we have a winner).
    – norlesh
    Apr 9, 2015 at 21:51
  • Yeah, I think that @Shevliaskovic 's now-deleted answer was correct. It refers to triplets, wherein three of whatever rhythmic value happen in the space that would usually be two. So the example in the image is quantization by quarter, quarter-triplets (1/6 of a 4/4 bar, 2/3 of a beat), eighths, eighth triplets (1/12 of a 4/4 bar, 1/3 of a beat), sixteenths, sixteenth triplets (1/24 of a 4/4 bar, 1/6 of a beat) and thirty-seconds. Apr 9, 2015 at 21:53
  • 1
    I think they're just weird because of the old LCD screen. Your answer is totally standard for quantization and definitely makes the most sense. Apr 9, 2015 at 21:55
  • 1
    Thanks @Pat Muchmore for the breakdown on the numbers - being from Australia where we are all metric I'm a bit slow when it comes to manipulating fractions.
    – norlesh
    Apr 9, 2015 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


Without a picture, we can just guess, and my guess is that it is referring to a triplet.

Something like this for instance:


Τhe eighth triplets (second group,second bar) are 3 eighth notes that are being played in one beat; the quarter triplets (first group,second bar) are 3 quarter notes that are being played on two beats etc.

  • Many thanks Shevliaskovic - and Pat Muchmore was also correct that the weird style of the 3 is just because its representing what is displayed on the tiny LCD screen.
    – norlesh
    Apr 9, 2015 at 21:59

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