This is the section that I'm having trouble with

I don't understand the tuplet and how it works. I know it is a quintuplet from the number five, but playing it with the metronome is frustrating, because i don't know how to tackle it.

If someone can help me with this section it will be a big help. Especially how to play the tuplets.

  • 1
    What piece is this? I can't tell whether this is official, established sheet music (e.g. of classical music) or a fan transcription.
    – Dekkadeci
    Nov 25, 2019 at 12:32
  • this comes close to "composer wanking." Yes, it's a sixteenth-rest, equivalent to two 32nd-rests, followed with 3 32nd notes, totalling 5 per beat, but in the end it comes down to waiting almost half a beat and playing three notes marginally faster than the following groups of four 32nds. Nov 25, 2019 at 18:18
  • It is called Glassy Sky, bad is transcripts by Theisther on YouTube. It is an amazing piece. So fan transcription. Nov 25, 2019 at 20:18

2 Answers 2


(Before I say anything: is this an official transcription? I don't see any reason why you can't view the left hand as straight thirty-second notes and skip the five-let altogether. But for the actual answer...)

For five-lets, I recommend thinking "hip-po-pot-a-mus" throughout the beat.

On that first grouping, notice that it's a thirty-second-note tuplet preceded by a sixteenth-note rest. This means that the rest will take up two portions of the tuplet; the three thirty-second notes thus take up the "pot-a-mus" part of the beat.

This, in addition to the opening E, results in the following rhythm:

    Hip    Low E
    po     (rest)
    pot    B
    a      E
    mus    G♯

This is made even more difficult by the fact that the next grouping is just regular thirty-second notes. I recommend putting a metronome on and making sure you can quickly switch between "hippotomas" and the thirty-second notes. Make sure all articulations within a beat are equal; the five-let will move more quickly than the thirty-second notes, but make sure you don't rush and finish your group of five early!

  • 2
    Well, it is a good answer, but I wonder whether this piece of sheet muisic is actually a computer rendition of someone playing with a sequencer program. The program makes a notation based on what is actually played. Slightly off beat here and there but probably quite organic. The original sheet music could be more simple and thereby also more user friendly. Nov 24, 2019 at 19:50
  • 1
    @LarsPeterSchultz This was my thought exactly.
    – Richard
    Nov 24, 2019 at 19:50
  • 1
    Since quintuplets are not uncommon in piano repertoire, I would not be quick to dismiss this as a MIDI mis-quantization. Otherwise, thank you for the helpful answer. Nov 25, 2019 at 1:58
  • It is a fan transcription of the song "Glassy Sky" from Theisther. Nov 25, 2019 at 20:22

One method for learning complex rhythms is to elevate the level of subdivision. 32nds become 16ths, 16ths become 8ths, 8ths become quarters. This may help you count it in a more familiar manner.

You can set your metronome to click at the tempo of 8ths or even 16ths. If you aren't sure how a quintuplet should feel or sound, here's an idea using two metronomes:

  • set the first metronome's clicks to a primary beat (for this passage, I'd call them 8th notes) @ 50 BPM
  • when the second metronome clicks @ 200 BPM (50 x 4) you've got straight 32nds (four subdivisions per primary beat);
  • when the second metronome clicks @ 250 BPM (50 x 5) you've got quintuplet 32nds :)
  • eventually you'll be comfortable enough playing four divisions (16ths over quarters, or 32nds over 8ths) so that you can feel those in your head count and only need the metronome for the quintuplet speed; ultimately you'll be able to play everything without the metronome but it's still useful for practice to keep your chops sharp

Many soft metronomes (apps) have the ability to set 5|4 time signature. Many of these are even free to download. If you have one of these, and the first beat can be accented, make that first accent beat your 8th note and the rest your 32nds within the quintuplet.

For triplets (or sixtuplets), I like to teach them using a compound time signature like 6|8 (for a two-beat passage) and 12|8 (in place of a four-beat passage). In 12|8, each beat of 4|4 becomes a triplet.

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