Can someone help me with this counting? im getting so confused.

i need clarification from measure 66 to about 73. i dont understand how to count the groups of 5's and 6's together in 4/4 time. enter image description here

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  • 1
    That piece looks like it could be rather challenging. I don't know how much experience you have, but if you're new, don't be too discouraged if you can't manage it right now. It is originally a piano piece, or perhaps an orchestral transcription?
    – endorph
    Jan 18, 2018 at 21:33
  • Im not new to piano, but ive never really gotten the hang of this type of rhythm. this is originally a piano piece. also why do you think i got a downvote?
    – A T
    Jan 18, 2018 at 23:10
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    Out of curiosity, what is this piece called? (It's possible that you can get away with fudging the tuplets depending on the piece.)
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 19, 2018 at 1:12
  • @AT I suspect the downvote is because someone thinks the question could be clearer. Perhaps you could indicate which rhythm(s) is/are the problem? For example "How do I play these notes with a 5 above them?". In it's current form, it's hard to work out which part is the problem.
    – endorph
    Jan 19, 2018 at 2:23
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    With the same strain of thought as Dekkadeci, it may be beneficial to listen to the music and hear how those sections are played. If you have a good ear, it may make it more performable and counting them may be excused. If this piece is as fast as I expect it to be, then you're actually performing it, you will NOT be thinking "noma university" every time you find a septuplet. I usually just "hear it, and play what I hear" in cases like this. Jan 19, 2018 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


The right hand consists of what we call tuplets. In this case, the number by each tuplet indicates that there are that many notes in the span of four regular sixteenth notes (that is, one quarter note).

5-tuplets (or 5-lets) are often counted as "hip-po-pot-a-mus," so you can try saying that word evenly in the space of one quarter-note beat to hear how those articulations are spaced. When there are rests in the 5-let, you'll just be silent on some of the syllables. When the 5-let begins with an eighth rest (=two sixteenths), for instance, you're silent on "hip-po" but you play on "pot-a-mus." If the 5-let ends with a sixteenth note, you play on "hip-po-pot-a" but are silent on "mus." And so on.

6-lets are really just two sixteenth-note-triplets back to back. For more on triplets, see Notes not adding up to time signature?

The left hand rhythm is just a (poorly notated) vamp of 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a.

Playing these two opposing rhythms simultaneously takes some practice; make sure you can play each hand individually, and then try to join hands without thinking about them too much. For joint rhythms like these, I think it's best to focus on the flow of the rhythm and then tweak the specifics later.

Lastly, it looks like this is a transcription of a recorded piece. As such, do your best to mimic the recording!


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