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In image 1, it's easy to play while counting in head or using a metronome, since the treble and bass notes are both divided by even numbers within a beat.

But in image 2, the treble notes are divided in odd number 3, so you count 1-trip-let, but in bass clef you count in even number 2, which is 1 and.

For the notes in image 2, how do you make sure you are counting and syncing your playing correctly?

UPDATE: Sorry for not asking a clearer question, I guess I'm really asking is how to sync the eighth rest with the remaining two triplet notes

UPDATE 2: I just realized this may be a lot simpler than I had thought, anytime you have different divisions in a column between the clefs, you can just use the lowest common denominator? Which should work with any numbers?

If the treble clef column is divided into 3 notes and the bass clef column is divided into 2 notes, then you just count with 6, since 6 is the lowest common denominator? Each top note is worth 2 and each bottom note is worth 3?

For just one of the columns that I outlined with a rectangle:

1 (first TREBLE note start and first BASS diad start)

2 (first TREBLE note sustaining and first BASS diad sustaining)

3 (second TREBLE note start and first BASS diad still sustaining)

4 (second TREBLE note sustaining and now the BASS diad is replaced by the REST)

5 (third TREBLE note start and BASS rest sustaining)

6 (third TREBLE note sustaining and BASS rest sustaining)


I guess for the whole bar you can count like this?

123456 223456 323456 423456

Not sure if this is remotely sensible but seems to work for me to be as exact as possible

  • 1
    It's the same as in the bar before. If you're playing bar 3 correctly, just keep going! Or have I misunderstood? May 13, 2020 at 4:45
  • Not only is your new edit sensible, it's a really good approach. You should write it up as an answer. The same method works for any unequal subdivisions such as 4 against 3 or 5 against 2.
    – Aaron
    Nov 12, 2020 at 0:39

4 Answers 4


Since the right hand is in triplets and the left hand is effectively in 4/4, some quick math will show how the duplet feel of the left hand fits with the triplets of the right.

Half of three is 1.5, so the eighth notes in the left hand will last for one-and-a-half of the individual notes in the right hand.

If you imagine quickly counting the right hand a 123 223 323 423, then inserting an "and" between each 2 and 3, just quit playing the left hand on that "and." (12and3, 22and3, 32and3, 42and3.)

With that said, realistically speaking, performers aren't probably going to be this specific; there's quite a bit of interpretive room for how long to play these eighth notes and how long those eighth rests should be, so I'd recommend not thinking too hard about it!


You don't need to be too exacting! The l.h. will play with the first of each triplet. That much is easy. The tricky bit is when to let go of the l.h. note during the triplet. Since the triplets are faster than the normal quavers, you play the second triplet note, and almost immediately let go with the l.h.

I think if you heard ten people play this, they wouldn't all play it exactly the same. There's always a bit of interpretation to play with, so let go early, let go late, and listen carefully to which you think gives the best production. Another point being, it's probably fairly rapid anyway, so as long as it's held until the second triplet note is played, and released before the third, it won't be too far off.


In this case, it's easy. There's an eighth rest after each eighth note in the bass making the pulse 4 per measure. In effect, the bass is in 4/4 and the treble triplets match each "effective" quarter. The eighth note in the bass occurs simultaneously with the first note of each triplet.

For actual counting, I'd probably just count One-un-un, Two-oo-oo, Three-ee-ee, Four-or-or. It's just triplets over 4 quarters. (The lengths of the lengths of the bass eights is slightly longer than that in the treble triplet.

  • Thank you for your answer! I forgot to clarify and ask how I should sync the eighth rest with the triplet above, syncing the first diad and the first note of the triplet is easy, but how should I sync the following eighth rest with the remaining two triplet notes?
    – user64861
    May 12, 2020 at 23:44

When the second half of the beat is a rest, there's no practical problem. Just leave some daylight after the LH notes. But suppose it was a note? Like example A. That's a bit more tricky, you have to actually DO something on that second half-beat.

Look at B. (I've moved it all to the same stave to show how things lie up more clearly.) See how the notes line up if the triplet notes were repeated? You'd have no trouble playing B. Now play it with some of the notes 'ghosted' as shown.

enter image description here

Here's another way of practicing 2 against 3. Beat out 1, 2 &, 3 on the table using both hands. quarter, two halves, quarter. "Hey, pat-a-pan". Easy, yes? Now split it between the hands. Both hit 1. Right hand hits 2, followed by the left hand hitting &. Then right hand takes 3. You're playing three against two!

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  • Re-reading, with the edit, means OP asked more about how to play the rests. You might want to edit this.
    – Tim
    May 13, 2020 at 10:06

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