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It's on 2/4 meter. I know we all are much familiar with 3 on top of any note which is a triplet. Here I'm confuse today: What is 6? Please describe to me what the 6 is about and how to count those red boxed notes. I want help so that I can count the beat in the right way of this whole measure shown in above picture.

  • 1
    Without being a percussionist, or ever having played the piece, this looks like the snare drum part of Ravel's Bolero. Is it?
    – Arthur
    Jun 30, 2017 at 12:59
  • Nope bro. It's a rhythm strum pattern of guitar which is on 2/4 meter. Jun 30, 2017 at 15:49

5 Answers 5


The "notes with a 6 above them" (sextuplet) is equivalent to two adjacent sets of sixteenth-note triplets. What is a sixteenth-note triplet? Well a "regular" (eighth-note) triplet is three notes over the span of one quarter note, and so a sixteenth-note triplet is three notes over the span of one eighth note.

Here's how I would count the first bar of the pattern in your picture (with a plain eighth-note count below it):

1 trip let And trip let 2          And trip let |
1          And          2          And          |
  • Thanks bro I understood. So, what's that 'and' after let? Are two triplet together are counted so? And why is there gap after 2 ? Jun 30, 2017 at 14:01
  • 2 trip let and trip let ? Will this be fine too? I mean as a point of eight note there is also a possible eight note triplet isn't it? Jun 30, 2017 at 14:03
  • 1
    Those are syllables for counting out loud to the rhythm. "one trip let and trip let" is the first group of six, "two ... ... and trip let" is the second note group, "one trip let and ... ..." would be the third, and so on. Each barred group is a subdivision of a single quarter note. "One"/"and" mark the downbeat and the halfway-point to the next beat (upbeat) where a second eighth note could be expected in a subdivision of two. Jun 30, 2017 at 14:12
  • 1
    An eighth note triplet would subdivide a quarter note into three, while the sixteenth note triplets subdivide into 6. (or, subdivide an eighth note into three, depending on how you look at it). Jun 30, 2017 at 14:17
  • @DarrenRinger so in a sextuplet there's down-up-up-down-up-up always or it's just the condition for current above meter for now? Jul 1, 2017 at 14:59

Given the 2/4 tim sig., the first six semis need to be evenly played in the time of one crotchet, or two quavers. That leaves the other crotchet beat to play one quaver followed by three semis in the time of two - an ordinary triplet. The second half of this bar is obviously the same timing as bar 3, and the second bar timing simply puts that mini rhythm the opposite way round.

You ask how to count it. Count a slow 1-2-3-4. 1= 1st 3 tuplets, 2=next 3, 3= the only quaver, 4= last 3 triplets.

EDIT: You're going to have fun strumming this UNLESS - you do two ghost strums after the quaver strum, which down will be down (up, down) - otherwise your pattern will be a mess.

  • Please describe notes in American name I felt hard to understand. Jun 30, 2017 at 13:04
  • 1
    I'd have thought the question had been answered! A quaver is an eighth note - but bear in mind you really do need to be conversant in terms from both sides of the pond. That apart, I wrote how to count, so the names are not that important.
    – Tim
    Jun 30, 2017 at 17:34
  • ok @Tim I will care about it. Jul 1, 2017 at 15:20

It is called a sextuplet and is essence six in the time of four or a pair of triplets. So basically 6 semi-quavers in the time of four semi-quavers or one crotchet.

The other one is triplets or three in the time of two or three semi-quavers in the time of two.

  • This is inaccurate, I'm afraid!
    – Tim
    Jun 30, 2017 at 11:51
  • which part of it is inaccurate?
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 30, 2017 at 12:30
  • ah sorry missing the word semi in between four and quavers, just a typo.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 30, 2017 at 12:32
  • essence six in time of four? Please describe notes in American name I felt hard to understand. Jun 30, 2017 at 13:07
  • The English, English is not impossible for you to google. seeing as this is an international site you may have to do with the queen's English at some point. It is something all musicians should know anyway.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 30, 2017 at 13:43

This is fairly simple to play if you can play the 3's. Simply do double-strokes instead of single strokes.

The rule is identical to 3, meaning that in this case you play 6 notes in the length of one quarter note. When playing percussion, simply double-up the strokes. Then it is still three hand moves but double-strokes will result in playing six notes instead of three.

  • OP says it's for guitar.
    – Tim
    Jul 23, 2022 at 6:21

When a three appears in or above/below a bracket, or above/below a beamed group of notes, the meaning is fairly straightforward: each note in that group should last 2/3 of its normal duration. When a two appears likewise in a piece which is in compound meter (e.g. 6/8 or 12/8), it means that each note should be lengthened to 1.5 times its normal duration.

With numbers other than 2 or 3, things can be a little more nebulous. The general concept is that the group of notes should be lengthened or (more often) shortened by whatever proportion would make them fit some other number of beats. If a group of five sixteenth notes with a 5 over it appears in the space of a quarter note, the notes should be played at 4/5 of their normal duration. If a group of seven sixteenth notes appears with a 7 over it in the space of a half note, they should be played at 8/7 of their normal duration. In the extant example, a group of six sixteenth notes appears with a 6 in the space of a quarter note, so they should be played at 4/6 normal duration. A couple of alternative way of writing the same thing would be to have two groups of three sixteenths, with a three centered over each, and with a single (rather than double) beam connecting them, or as three pairs of sixteenths, with the pairs of sixteenths joined by single beams, and a bracketed 3 over the whole thing. Both of those would yield the same durations as the music as printed, but the latter ways of printing it would tend to suggest that it should be "felt" as being subdivided as a pair of threes or three pairs, respectively, while putting a 6 over the whole thing suggests that it should feel like six uniform notes.

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