Many of my favorite really complicated songs have these quintuplets in them (5 equally-spaced notes in the space of a quarter note), yet I can't seem to "feel" these 5-note subdivisions. I have no trouble listening to, say, Take 5 by Dave Brubeck and feeling that, but how on earth can I feel the 5-note divisions in the context of a 4/4 time signature? How do the really advanced players of these songs conceptualise this rhythm?

If the answer is just to practice it, that's okay, but ideally if anyone knows any helpful tips, that would be great.


2 Answers 2


I'd start easy. See if you can feel triplets. See if you can switch easily between feeling triplets and feeling duplets or quadruplets. Once you've got that down, see if you can feel quintuplets (or at least have a strong enough pulse that you can try stuffing 5 notes in each beat instead of 3 or 4).

  • 2
    Exactly this. I might add "try playing quintuplets as 2-sixteenths + sixteenth-triplet, then reverse that, then finally as evenly spaced quint" . Once you can do that, you've got it all locked down. Oct 3, 2018 at 13:34
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    Agreed here. I personally use Carnatic syllables and quintuplets really clicked for me when I used “ta-ka-gi-na-ton” for learning to squeeze 5 into a beat. For spreading it out over 2 beats, I simply feel the halfnote and adjust accordingly. Oct 3, 2018 at 16:16

Maybe you're trying to be too mathematical about this. Quintuplets (and similar divisions) are often used expressively, over a flexible pulse. Sequence this literally into a DAW and you'll see what I mean. It will sound horrible!

enter image description here

  • 1
    "sound horrible" is a personal opinion not shared by many others Oct 3, 2018 at 13:32
  • Go on, do it then!
    – Laurence
    Oct 3, 2018 at 14:46

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