# How does a Time Signature affect tuplet duration?

Take a `X/Y` time signature (but I don't think `X` matters here). What would be the duration of a `n`-tuplet (of 8th, 16th and 32nd notes), depending on `Y` and `n`?

A time signature does not affect the duration of any tuple.

For example:

• An 8th note triplet will always take up 1/3 of a quarter note

• A 16th note triplet will always take up 1/3 of an 8th note

• A 32nd note triplet will always take up 1/3 of a 16th note

• An 8th note duplet will always take up 1/2 of a dotted quarter note

• A 16th note duplet will always take up 1/2 of a dotted 8th note

• A 32nd note duplet will always take up 1/2 of a dotted 16th note

This is regardless of meter. You are much more likely to come across triplets in an simple meter and duplets in a compound meter, but regardless the durations are the same.

This pdf is good resource for the basics of how tuples work.

Most tuplets are not affected by the time signature. However, two duplet eighths in 3/8 will cover 3/8, two duplet eighths in 5/16 will cover 5/16. A septole eighth in 4/4 will likely cover a whole measure unless the composer is from the school that n-toles may only be shorter than regular notes (but then how to explain duplets?).

In cases where you have to fear to be misunderstood, it may be better to write the note ratio out, so write either 7:4 or 7:8 instead of just 7.

• Can you find an example of using two duplet eighths to fill a measure of 5/16 in practice? I've never seen this before and finale won't let me do it.
– Dom
Aug 28, 2015 at 17:16
• Not exactly, but the last bar of Glier's prelude op 30-11 which is in 5/4 has triplet minims. And Musescore at least won't let me do that either. Aug 28, 2015 at 18:06