How can I write on a pentagram (another word for the staff in my country) a note that is 5 x 1/16 notes length? If I use a dotted quarter note I get 6 x 1/16 length

I can get away with a quarter note (crotchet) and a 1/16 silence but still want to learn about it.

  • 1
    Do you mean a staff or stave, with its five lines? A pentagram is a 5-pointed star.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 5:07
  • 3
    @Tim in some countries (Greece included) you call the staff a pentagram (from the greek πεντάγραμμο - πεντε + γραμμες = five lines) which make the staff Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 10:18
  • 1
    Thanks, Shev. I googled it, and saw hundreds of pics with 5 lines, but they all made stars! I knew it was from Greek, but couldn't find any reference music-wise. I guess most folk would recognise staff/stave more easily. I love this site - something new to learn every day!
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 11:21
  • 1
    @Tim Oh, I didn't knew the word stave, I assumed that it was pentagram, as in Spanish we call it "pentagrama", at least in Argentina.
    – Rombus
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 13:17

4 Answers 4


You'll have to represent it with a tie. In 4/4, the simplest and most direct way is to represent it with a quarter note tied to a 16th note as such:

enter image description here

  • Or eighth tied to dotted eighth :-) but yours is certainly the easiest to read Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 11:48
  • Thanks Dom! I tried this on a music composition software but it didn't work, then after seeing your answer I changed the software and it worked. BTW I can't find the button to accept your answer
    – Rombus
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 13:07
  • @Rombus another easy way to find what you're looking for is to fill the whole measure with 16th notes , tie the ones you want and then see what that leaves you with Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 14:02

A single note with this duration is a triply dotted triplet quarter note:

  • triple dotting increases the duration by a factor of 15/8
  • notes in a triplet are shortened by a factor of 2/3
  • the product of these factors is 5/4

But there are serious problems with this approach:

  • it is cumbersome if not impossible to apply triplet shortening to a single note
  • doubly and triply dotted notes are not readily comprehended except as one element of a pair (for example, dotted quarter and eighth, doubly dotted quarter and sixteenth, triply dotted quarter and 32nd)
  • nobody is going to be able to do all this arithmetic in their heads while they're playing an instrument or singing.

By contrast, reading tied notes is an elementary skill, and if the component values of the tie are chosen carefully, the relationship between the metrical pulse and the note's beginning and end will be clear.

The goal of music notation is not to express pitch and duration in the most efficient way possible, but to communicate with a reader, whether for performance or study.

Since the relationship between rhythm and meter is an important part of that communication, the use of tied notes to represent complex rhythms, especially unfamiliar ones, is a feature, not a bug.

Also see my answer to How to represent 5 eighth-notes as one note?


A double dotted quarter note triplet is correct. Quarter note triplet = 2/3. x1.5 for the first dot, that = 1, making it a quarternote, x1.25 for the second dot and that is 5 16th notes.

  • How can a single note be a triplet? Commented Mar 13 at 21:43
  • A triplet is just a note value, 1/3 for 8th note, 2/3 for quarter note, 1/6 sixtuplet. For a single note to be a triplet it just needs to be indicated as such.
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 14 at 2:59
  • This doesn't add up. The second dot adds 0.25x the original note value- so, 1/4th of a quarter note triplet in this case. It doesn't add 0.25x the dotted note value.
    – Edward
    Commented Mar 16 at 4:12
  • I see that someone else has also posted this answer and it was similarly explained why it's wrong.
    – Edward
    Commented Mar 16 at 4:13
  • @Edward but it's close! I've posted an answer: music.stackexchange.com/a/135266/2257
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 16 at 15:59

Without ties can also use a double dotted triplet.

  • Could you show the math? It seems like it shouldn't work. Also, I think this suggestion would be fairly annoying to read, if it does indeed work, though the performer would probably get used to it.
    – awe lotta
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 16:06
  • You could write out an equation, so like a * 1.5^2 = 5/16, where 5/16 is the note length we want and 1.5^2 is the double dot. Solving for a would give 5/36, which can't be written with just tuplets, and certainly not triplets.
    – awe lotta
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 16:20
  • 2
    @awelotta the factor for a double dot isn't 1.5^2, which is 9/8, but 1.75, which is 7/4. The equation should therefore be a * 1.75 = 5/16 which gives a = 5/28. This also can't be written with triplets :-)
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 13 at 12:47
  • @awelotta but the factor for a triple dot is 15/8, which has a factor of 5 in the numerator, so we're in luck. Or not. music.stackexchange.com/a/135265/2257
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 16 at 15:37

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