I am trying to transcribe this song for piano. This is my progress so far (ignore the 8vb, I am planning to switch the left- and right-hand parts).

I am having trouble figuring out whether the rhythms in which I currently have sixteenth-note-triplets with one eighth note and one sixteenth note are correct, or whether they should actually be a dotted sixteenth note followed by a thirty-second note.

Better put, is this version more accurate?

I realize this is a minor difference but the difference between a 2/3 - 1/3 split and 3/4 - 1/4 split in rhythms has always been a bit difficult for me.

2 Answers 2


These are definitely triplet subdivisions, not duple 32nds. With experience, you can tell the difference even at fast tempos like this.

If I was doing this transcription, however, I would take a very different approach. I would either write in swing 8ths, 4/4 at q=206, or I would keep the meter the same and make a note up at the top indicating "swing 16ths", and then not write a single triplet or 32nd note.

This style of rhythm is right out of jazz music, and the matching notation is rarely explicit about the triplet subdivision that is implied in swing rhythms. You would only write an explicit triplet if you had a note starting on the second of three subdivisions.

Swing 8ths: Swing 8th notes

Swing 16ths: Swing 16th notes

One additional tip about your transcription -- the two consecutive dotted 8ths you have in bar 2 would not usually be considered correct. Often it's debatable, but in this case, the second note does actually have a swing placement, and so showing the distinct 16th is important. (If you listen closely, those two notes are NOT the same length!)

  • Thank you! I did not realize that the two dotted eighths weren't the same length. It does sound more like the original when I change the second to a swing placement. How do you hear these things? The difference seems so difficult to figure out by ear ... Feb 11, 2016 at 7:13

I have got the same issue some times ago and after obsessively seeking an answer I realized human brain is not able to distinguish between those (in 110 bpm) :D

But the common literature uses the 2/3 1/3 split. however it is literally indistinguishable but it is more common to use it.

so don't get obsessed over it, you're transcription is absolutely fine.

Source : I played and listened to music obsessively since I was 11 :D

[for those who are voting down and or not, please read the comment section]

  • 5
    I've had extensive solfège lessons, and can distinguish between triplets and dotted eighths with sixteenth. Assuming I am - as a human - in possession of a human brain, this seems to contradict your first paragraph.
    – 11684
    Feb 10, 2016 at 23:52
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    Really? you can distinguish them in tempo of 110? If that's so it's amazing, I will seriously reconsider it and practice on it.thanks for sharing Feb 11, 2016 at 9:53
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    The difference between a sixteenth note and a triplet is one twelfth of a beat. At 25bpm, that's a fifth of a second--if you're not hearing that difference, I think you may have set something up wrong in guitar pro. Feb 11, 2016 at 18:38
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    @BruceFields I hear it at guitar pro at 25 bpm.but in 110 bpm it's about 0.05 second. it takes 0.003 seconds for sound to travel from 1 m of me. so it remains 0.047 seconds.human blink time response is 0.1 second! I have no idea how can someone say that they can hear the difference at 110 bpm. Feb 11, 2016 at 18:56
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    The absolute time it takes for sound to travel 1m isn't really relevant here - the experienced ear is still very sensitive to small differences in relative timing between sounds. When trying to sequence a drum pattern and get exactly the right feel, you get used to moving beats by just a few milliseconds one way or another - from memory, moving a beat by just 10 or 15 ms (that's 0.01 to 0.015 s) can easily make a noticeable difference. 0.05 second is 50ms - definitely an audible difference in many situations. Feb 12, 2016 at 11:34

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