Rhythm Primer (part11): Triplets

Welcome rhythm guitarists, to the 11th tutorial of the rhythm primer. Up to now we've divided our beats in half. Each time we wanted to strum our guitar faster, we divided our beat in half and then again in half and so on. We can divide the beat in three parts instead of two. So lets take a look at eight note triplets. Usually, eighth notes take a quarter note and divide it two equal parts. But you could take a quarter note and divide it into three equal parts. These would be called eighth note triplets. To the left is what eighth note triplets look like.

When counting out triplets there are a couple different ways people do it. You can use the "and a" version (1 & a, 2 & a ,etc) or you can use the "trip - let" version (1 trip let, 2 trip let, etc). I find the "and a" way of doing it a little easier to say and write, but it can be a little confusing because the "and" of a triplet does not line up with the "and" of an eighth note. So, choose whatever works for you.

Here is an example of a measure of eighth note triplets:

Description: Straight eighth note triplets

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Here's another example this time using eighth note triplets mixed in with other notes:

Description: Eighth note triplets mixed with other notes.

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Eighth notes aren't the only thing we can use triplets on, however. We can also use 16th note triplets. Normally, two sixteenth notes equal the length of one eighth note, but with sixteenth note triplets three notes would equal one eighth note. If you do a full beat of 16th note triplets (or two sets), there would be six notes during that beat. When this happens we call them sextuplets.

Description: Sixteenth note triplets exercise (sextuplets)

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You can also do quarter note or half note triplets. Quarter note triplets would be three equal notes that cover two beats total. Half note triplets would be if you took a measure (four beats) and divided it into three equal parts. This is harder to explain on paper than it is to hear. So, lets take a listen to these three new kinds of triplets.

Description: Quarter note triplets exercise

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Description:Mixed length triplets exercise

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Triplets can be much harder to get used to than the other kinds of division, so it may take quite a bit of practice to nail these examples. So, you now know how to divide notes into two or three equal parts. But, you could also divide notes into 5, 7, 11 parts. In fact you could divide using whatever number you wanted. To notate those, instead of a three written above the beam, you'd change it to a 5 or what ever division you are using. Anything other than two's or three's are pretty uncommon. We won't really cover these different kinds of divisions, but I wanted you to know they exist.

There's only one new topic left to cover, and then you will have completed the rhythm primer tutorials! Keep it up!

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