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nested triplets

I am entering a Dave Brubeck Chorale and have run across
a case of what I can only call nested triplets. They are
eighth note triplets except that the 2nd note is actually triplet sixteenth notes. NoteWorthy won't do it.
(8th (16th 16th 16th) 8th)
I am stumped. Is there a trick that will at least
sound right?

Re: nested triplets

Reply #1
Hmm.. good one! What you could do is enter the notes "straight"; i.e. 1/8-1/16-1/16-1/16-1/8. Before the first 1/8, enter a tempo 50% greater than your normal tempo (e.g. if it's at 120, enter 180). Before the first 1/16 enter a tempo 50% greater again (e.g. 270). After the last 1/16, back down again (e.g. 180), then at the very end return to your original tempo.

Now, to make it work right with other staves may be a problem, because your time signature will be wrong. You'll have 7/16 in the time of 1/4, so you'll have to add 3/16 to other staves on the beat on which this grouping falls.

Depending on exactly what's going on, you might even be able to make it look right in a printout, using the "hide almost anything" feature of NWC. For example, if there's just a single 1/4 on the other staff, you can write the 1/4, followed by a dotted 1/8, and hide the 1/8; also mute it by using a hidden dynamic with velocity override = 1. Put a pedal down before the 1/4, and a pedal up after the hidden 1/8 and it even sounds right again! :)

Finally, if you plan on auditing barlines, you'll have to add a hidden time signature change to keep the audit from mucking it all up. Example - if the original sig is 4/4, you'll have to change it to 19/16 (16/16 + 3/16) for that bar, then change it back to 4/4 at the next bar.

Re: nested triplets

Reply #2
Better idea. Put in a bar rest and write it on the printout.

Re: nested triplets

Reply #3
Blair, that one didn't work for me either. I don't understand how the layers can be expected to line up, since the entire group in the lower layer isn't tripletised, only the 1/16ths... which gets back to the original problem.

For you and anyone else without newsgroup access, I'll post the file referenced earlier at:

Re: nested triplets

Reply #4
Reidar Bornholdt: Is there a trick that will at least
sound right?

ded jorge: Better idea. Put in a bar rest and write it on the printout.

And how will those written in notes "sound right"?

Re: nested triplets

Reply #5
I'm posting on the NWC newsgroup an approximate solution to your problem. The message is titled "Nested Triples." Notationally, the solution is ugly as sin, but it sounds good. It also illustrates a important point: In many cases, NWC user can, with careful use of tied, dotted, and double dotted 64th notes, closely approximate the sound of arbitrary tuples. Notation is another matter, though that may change to some extent when I finish my Noterow font.

Aside: It would be nice if NWC scores could be posted to this forum. Perhaps archiving them would be too difficult.

Re: nested triplets

Reply #6
Here is a suggestion using staff layering. Write the triplet out in (I assume) eighth notes. Hide and mute the middle note. On the other layer, enter the triplet in 16'th notes, surrounded by hidden 16'th rests.

As for posting music on the forum, if you have a web page put it there and post the link.

Re: nested triplets

Reply #7
Just for completeness: NWC does not support nested triplets.

You can get close to the right play back oing something like:

(8th dotted32nd dotted32nd 32nd 8th)

but the visual representation is not directly supported in NWC.

Re: nested triplets

Reply #8
Those of you with newsgroup access might want to check out Steve's thread on this topic, to which I've replied with two more solutions that both sound exact. The last variation is very near to looking right also -- the only remaining problem being that the "beamlet" on the hidden 1/16 note does not get hidden.

Re: nested triplets

Reply #9
I got a chance to try my suggestion. It is simple and it works, but the middle note of the faster tripet did not line up with the middle note of the slower triplet, the way I expected. Does this mean that NWC does not correctly support LAYERED triplets (ie. bug), or is my expectation wrong?

I suspect the faster triplet is more stretched out than it should be, but this can be adjusted. It looks a bit funny - I wonder how the original score looked.

See a short example at

Re: nested triplets

Reply #11
How about going into compound time just for the difficult section. e.g. instead of 4/4 use 12/8? Then you can easily get constructs like quaver, 3 x triplet semiquaver, quaver (1/4 note, 3 x triplet 1/8 notes, 1/4 note) in the space of one beat.

However, if you have untripletted (is there such a word?) quavers or shorter in the same measure another problem arises; how do you get two/four notes in the time of one compound beat? This has been discussed elsewhere and maybe this problem would be easier to solve.

Another point to consider is that the whole score will have to go into compound time to get the beats to line up correctly in the other staffs.

What is else is happening in the same measure as the nested triplet?

Stephen Randall


Re: nested triplets

Reply #13
I think the root problem runs deeper than nesting the triplets (where one of the first set of triplets is itself a triplet).  Take a simple measure in 2/4 time such as is encountered in thousands of marches; give it 4 eighth notes (EEEE); use AutoBeam and you get the first two eighths beamed together (EE), followed by the last two beamed together (EE).  Change the second eighth note to two sixteenths, making ESSEE, a typical marching variation.  Use AutoBeam and you again get two sets of beamed notes; the first has the eighth and the two sixteenths correctly beamed together (ESS), while the second has the remaining two eighths (EE).  Now change the two sixteenths to (3) sixteenth triplets.  Use AutoBeam, and the result is a mess.  The first eighth is flagged, not beamed.  The set of triplets is beamed correctly.  The remaining two eighths are beamed correctly.  It just doesn't look pretty, with the flagged note standing out like a sore thumb.  As a visual work-around, you can enter the measure as ESSSEE, which is a sixteenth note too long; beam the ESSS and the EE by hand, and the result looks beautiful, except that the "3" indicating a triplet is missing -- this can be added as text.  Of course, the playback is wrong!  This is a pretty basic rhythm to be using, and it has nothing to do with nesting, but the current NWC beaming procedure can't handle it.  Maybe I'm missing something??