Lesson 25: T-T-T-Triplets!

Category: Lessons

The best things in life come in threes… Like… umm…uhhh… Well, maybe the best things in life don’t come in threes.  So this introduction isn’t going to work very well… But I’m pretty much committed to it now. I’ll make it work. Here goes…. Although the best things in life usually don’t come in threes, some notes do. (Awesome.)

So far we’ve figured out how to fit one note into the duration of one beat, using a quarter note. To fit two notes into one beat, we can use two eighth notes. To fit four notes into one beat, we can use four sixteenth notes. All of this we have learned in previous lessons. But… and you can probably see where I am going with this… how do we fit THREE notes into a beat? *insert anticipatory pause here…*

We can use TRIPLETS! The use of triplets tells the musician to play THREE notes in one beat.  Triplet notes look like 3 notes that are connected together using a bar. Additionally, the number “3” is displayed above or below the notes, depending on their position in the staff.  See the image below for two examples of triplet runs.


Now that we know what the triplet looks like, we need to know what to do when we encounter triplets. There are different ways to count triplet notes, but I like to use the phrase “One-and-a  Two-and-a  Three-and-a Four-and-a… ” etc.  If you have triplet note runs, it can sound a lot like a gallop. Just try repeating the phrase “One-and-a Two-and-a Three-and-a Four-and-a” over and over again. You’ll be lucky if you don’t end up galloping around the room by the time you are done.   Now, you don’t HAVE to use the “one-and-a..” counting technique to count triplets. Some people like to say “trip-uh-let” when they encounter a triplet run. This doesn’t make much sense to me because the word triplet only has two syllables. But hey, whatever works for you!

So, in the phrase above, try to count out the rhythm using the method summarized in Lesson 14, including what you learned about triplets in this lesson. It will sound a lot like this: “ONE TWO THREE-and-a FOUR. ONE TWO THREE-and-a FOUR”. Remember to tap your foot slowly and evenly, and that each number will fall on a foot tap. Pretty soon I hope to get some worksheets up in the download section so you can practice your triplets!

Posted on February 16th, 2010 by sharlene


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