I am starting to teach myself Piano and I have some background in music from school, but I don't remember much. I am working on a new song that has, what I believe to be, a triplet.

From what I understand, triplets that are all the same type of note take up 2 beats instead of 3 (in the case of quarter notes). However, this measure seems to me to only add up to 3 beats and not 4. Do I only play 3 beats for the whole note below it, or is the triplet tied to the whole note on the next line? Or is this not a triplet?

Last Measure of the First Line

The measure in question has 1 quarter rest followed by 3 quarter notes with what looks like a triplet symbol over it. I notice that it uses a curved line instead of a square bracket though so I'm not sure.

  • Modern notation practices will always use a square bracket or beam for tuplet notation.
    – NReilingh
    Oct 31, 2015 at 2:35

1 Answer 1


It's not a triplet.

The arc is a phrase mark and the 3 is the fingering of the note on the third beat. Together they kind of look like a triplet, but you can tell it is not a triplet because the arc is continued in the next measure confirming it is a phrase mark.

  • 2
    Or to be more specific legato phrasing marks. I was wondering myself if the three was not just a fingering indication.
    – Neil Meyer
    Oct 9, 2015 at 7:56
  • Another way you can tell that it's not a triplet is that fingering numbers are upright and triplet 3s (and other numbers for irregular groups) are italic.
    – Rosie F
    Nov 24, 2020 at 7:50

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