Here are some examples of rhythms with rests in tuplets:

Three lines of rhythm in 6/8 with a quadruplet over the first beat. Different representation are used with some showing all subdivisions of the quadruplet as individual rests/notes, and some merge rests.

The first line shows 3 ways to notate the same rhythm.
The second line shows 2 ways to notate another rhythm.
The third line shows 4 various tuplet rhythms.

  1. Are these tuplets all notated correctly?
  2. What rules apply to notating groups of notes and rests in tuplets?

2 Answers 2


Yes, those tuplets are all notated "correctly". Notating tuplets is the same as notating any sort of rhythm; make the subdivisions as clear as possible. This depends on how you want the tuplet to be subdivided. It could be subdivided into 2 quarter notes, 4 eighth, 1 dotted quarter/1 eighth, etc. It depends on the song and arrangement. If all the voices are playing that rhythm together the subdivison isn't as important, while if it were an independent line clearer subdivision is much more important.

On the first line, first measure you can see how all 4 eighth notes are expressed in the tuplet clearly. If this were a repeating line it might be best to notate the first bar this way while using a more compact version, such as the third measure, for the rest of the repeats. However, the third bar is not bad either, especially if you're subdividing it as dotted quarter/eighth the whole time.

For the second line either one would work, though the two eighth rests would be clearer at first glance.

On the third line, measure 7, it might be wise to notate the dotted quarter note as a quarter tied to eighth to make it clearer, but again it depends on how you want to subdivide it. If measure 8 were following the same subdivision as written in 7 I would divide the dotted quarter into eighth and quarter.

Measures 9 and 10 are interesting in that you could justify further dividing them into sixteenth note 8-tuplets, especially measure 10. Turning the rests into sixteenth rests would more clearly show that. Since there are only 3 sixteenth notes it's not as important, but the more you add the more important I would rate it.

To reiterate, notating tuplets involves identifying their weak and strong beats and emphasizing those, both of which depend on the type of musical line you wish to write and what effect you're going for. If all the beats are relatively equal, or only the first is, then you should make it clear how the full tuplet is laid out. Since this is a 4 note tuplet made of eighth notes the standard procedure would be to make sure all 4 of them are clearly marked rather than obfuscate them with longer rhythms.

  • Thanks. Here is an expanded example --- Bar 11 shows one of my original examples, bar 12 shows one of your suggestions and bar 13 shows another possibility --- Can you please further explain why you think bar 12 may be clearer than bar 11?
    – JySmith
    Mar 28, 2018 at 11:36
  • You seem to have a grasp of subdivision, but I disagree that they’re all notated correctly. If the composer is writing dotted rhythms in tuplets un compound meter, I’d challenge them to rewrite it. Much clearer then to use simple meter with triplets as necessary if they feel compelled to go that route. Also, as you said, metric subdivision. Some of those examples improperly subdivide the rest, so they couldn’t be correct Mar 28, 2018 at 11:53
  • Thanks @jjmusicnotes. Can you please explain with more specifics on why some of my examples are incorrect? What divisions need to be shown in these tuplets? Should they be notated like they are in 4/8?
    – JySmith
    Mar 28, 2018 at 12:45
  • 1
    @Tama, I disagree. 3, 4, 8, 9 are all pretty poorly notated. Also, disagree with your second point; putting it in 2/4 with 16ths and triplets would sound exactly the same and would be much easier to read, thus a better performance. It doesn’t matter if it’s a motive or not. Mar 28, 2018 at 20:49
  • 1
    It may be easier to read in 2/4 for most people but if this rhythm is intermittent to the rest of the piece being in 6/8 then it makes less sense to switch back and forth, especially since a tempo change would also be necessary. These rhythms aren't written in isolation.
    – Tama
    Mar 29, 2018 at 0:55

The rules for notating your irregular groups in the time of a dotted crotchet/quarter are the same as for notating a regular group that lasts a minim/half.

The first is wrong; the second and third are correct. The fourth is correct; the fifth is wrong. It is OK to write a syncopated crotchet/quarter note that way, but a rest must be split.

In your last two examples, the notes and rests are OK but the numeral should be 8, not 4.

  • Thanks. Doesn't the way a "regular group that lasts a minim/half" get notated depend on the time signature? Where would you normally see a dotted crotchet/quarter rest followed by a quaver/eighth note? (like the rest and note under the tuplet bracket in bar 3)
    – JySmith
    Mar 28, 2018 at 11:12
  • 1
    Sorry, they’re not. You need to be cognizant of metric subdivision. You’re assertions here are incorrect. Mar 28, 2018 at 11:49
  • @jjmusicnotes Please could you clarify which of my assertions are incorrect and why?
    – Rosie F
    Apr 27, 2018 at 16:12

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