some years ago I made a pimped version of the christmas song "Tommorrow, Children, We´ll Rejoice" for my daughter (Cello). Now both of us made some progress in learning our instruments (I´m learning drumset) and I would like to rewrite the old version to a shuffled version, formally notated in triplets.

For the most part thats easily done, but one measure puzzles me (of course I can do it however I want, since this is not a school exam, but I would love to know the formally correct answer):

Current version:

enter image description here

Should this change to:

enter image description here

Or to:

enter image description here

It seems to me, that this is a general question about syncopation in shuffled rythms?

Thanks for any advice.

  • 1
    According to my understanding the conventions seems to simply state Swing textually and not bother with triplets, but represent quarters and eigths by the same note value.
    – guidot
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 8:39
  • But simply writing swing does not help neither me nor my daughter because then we still do not know how this part would correctly be "swinged".
    – DrSvanHay
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


I think you want to treat every beat as a triplet, and within the beat, the first eighth note is two sub-beats and the second eighth note is the third sub-beat.
Where you have an eighth rest followed by an eighth note, the rest takes two sub-beats just the same.

As you get more familiar with playing styles, you may allow the last eighth note to "lag" a little, almost falling into the next downbeat. But always be aware that there will be spots in the music where you do not want to swing but rather do a couple straight eighths for emphasis or the end of a phrase.

  • Carl, if I understand you right (treat every beat as a triplet) that would lead to a notation like in my last image, right?
    – DrSvanHay
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 17:27
  • @DrSvanHay yep! Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 18:34

Your second example is probably the better option. An even better option would be to write out the music in a 12/8 time signature, so that each measure has 4 dotted quarter note beats and each of those beats has 3 eighth notes. It will look a lot like your second example, but you won't need all those triplet brackets.

This is a pretty common technique for notating shuffles.

  • 1
    Ooops :-) we had a lot of 12/8 in my drum lessons I think your suggestion is a really good idea. I should´ve tried that first :-)
    – DrSvanHay
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 17:29

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