Best advice to avoid these crazy nested tuplets when recording live?

I play in a very syncopated style which naturally results in many offbeats, dotted rhythms, and wacky tuplets. Here is something I recently played in, before quantization:

However after quantization, I played around with many of the possible quantization settings for both normal notes and tuplets, and although the notes themselves are more legible, the resulting nested tuplets only got weirder:

I can get the quanitization to sound close to what I have in mind, but it looks like a mess. If I try to remove these excess tuplets, it kind of dismantles the entire rhythm I created, so I don’t really know how to convert these to something more visually useable.

Also if anyone has any books or resources to study up on advanced tuplet notation I would love to read about it, as it’s something I can easily play intuitively on my instruments (hence why I try to record this live using my midi controller), but looking to improve my skill at notating by hand too.

Thank you!

This is not an answer to your question but have you considered unticking detect triplets in preferences<Play<Quantization?
For at least sections that don’t need triplets.

Yes, and I usually successfully do that for bits which I do not play tuplets of any sort - works well - my problem is I’m a triplet crazy kinda guy :wink:

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I think quadruply nested tuplets, while easy enough to make in Dorico, are too much to ask anyone to parse. I’d be very interested to hear one of your lines (against a click) to see how I might transcribe it.

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Indeed, my point exactly, these would be impossible to parse, so I’m looking for a way to distill what I’ve played into something which is actually legible. To be clear, the quadruply nested tuplets were a result of quantization efforts playing with various settings – while the notes simplified, the nests actually got more complex with the quantization.

I wish I saved that example above but I didn’t. I’ll play around with something later today - to be fair what I play is nothing terribly crazy, perhaps a bit jazz influenced and my background as a drummer, lots of dotted rhythms, triplets and quintuplets, played offbeat and with grace notes here and there, so I think when recording live Dorico doesn’t quite know what to do with it.

Hello, just stumbled upon your topic. I think I managed to create a pretty accurate approximation to the first rhythm (the one “before quantization”).

To me it sounds nearly identical. Even when the original and this rhythm are played at the same time there is just a bit of difference.

Sadly, I don’t perform music, so I can’t be sure how helpful this is, but the rhythm looks cleaner to me. I hope this one helps.


I don’t use Dorico, I used math to simplify this rhythm. Here’s roughly how I did it. First 3 notes are exactly originally equivalent to 3/16 (dotted eight), 5/32 (which I notated as 1/4+1/32), and a 1/8. The next note originally would be 19/96, which I simplified to 18/96 = 3/16, dotted eight. The next note with a rest lasts 3/16, originally, it is a 1/6 note followed by 1/48 rest (1/6 + 1/48 = 3/16), which I approximated as 5/32 + 1/32 = 3/16 to remove the triplet. (1/6 - 5/32 = 1/96, so I’d say it’s a pretty good approximation). Finally, the last note here had to be 5/32 to fit the bar. Originally it’s 7/48, 5/32-7/48 = 1/96, pretty good approximation again.

My knowledge goes pretty much as far as: if you have a quarter note (1/4) inside a 3:2 tuplet (normal, typical triplet), then the note’s duration is actually 1/4 * 2/3 = 1/6. A quarter note nested in 2 triplets (3:2 in 3:2) would be 1/4 * 2/3 * 2/3 = 1/9, and also, you can treat the nested tuplet as 3/2 * 3/2 = 9/4, 9:4-tuplet. This one probably isn’t very helpful to notate and transcribe stuff, however it’s rarely mentioned, and may be good to know. This is the sort of math that you could do as I did above, to simplify the rhythm. However, I did not do this math manually here, I used another program (Frescobaldi) which conveniently gave me exact fractions of note durations. Other software, maybe even Dorico maybe can do it, but that’s just what I used, in case such information is desired.

Hi, first of all welcome! I find it interesting that you stumbled upon this topic but say you don’t perform music nor use Dorico? Just curious what brought you here.

Nonetheless I personally would not love to see your altered rhythm on a page either. Between the various alternating dotted notes, ties, flags, and a 32nd rest, it would still be hard to sight read. But I do appreciate that you took the time to try that.

On reflection these past few months, I have found a workflow which somewhat works for me actually. Usually I will take the original rhythm I recorded in and bring it down the flow to a blank space where I have it on two staves next to each other, making it easier for me to clean it up while still having the original reference to listen for playback.

I have found that 98% of the time all I am really playing are simply triplets or basic dotted rhythms, frequently on upbeats. I have learned that when using Dorico’s quantization feature, it’s better to use it on smaller chunks at a time (my issue was that I was trying to quantize entire phrases). This allows me to be more specific since different parts of the phrase might have different speeds and note values, so quantization is not a one-size-fits-all. But most of the time I end up listening to what I recorded, and simply re-transcribing it, checking that against the original.

To illustrate an example, I had actually screenshotted a before an after of my new process just a couple weeks ago.

  1. Before - this phrase I recorded in from my midi keyboard. It contains all kinds of difficult to read note values and a tuplet with rests that says ‘21’!

  1. After listening back and editing it by ear, the end result of what you see above was simply this:

So, mostly 8th notes with some triplets, the occasional tie, grace note here and there. When playing both versions back for myself side by side, they sounded identical (even though the first looks like an entirely different piece of music, what I played in reality sounds exactly like the latter). Obviously that is the one I would show a live player since I can personally sight read it myself without an issue.

Finally the other issue I was encountering which is why the screengrabs in my original post are misleading is that my midi latency settings were slightly incorrect. So what Dorico displayed was in fact a little off and resulted in perhaps more odd math than needed. I have also recently disabled slurs from input since I find them unnecessary and distracting in this context (I will add them back in as needed).

I will say this process of cleanup has been enlightening for myself actually - forcing me to think more about how tuplets divide in context. I would say most of the time it has not been so mathematically complicated after all, it’s really just been about a combination of playing triplets on upbeats, ties, and grace notes.

Since this post I also discovered the ability in Dorico to swing individual notes. This is quite helpful for the style of music I play, because for example in jazz the page may have a bunch of straight 8th notes, but many jazz players will intuitively swing and syncopate them in context. Writing these notes precisely with such swing is mathemtically complex and not easy to sight read, so it is much easier to simply add tempo or expression markings to specify ‘swing’ etc, and now that I learned I can create this in playback, it has honestly solved many things for me!

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Thanks! What brought me here is curiosity. Relatively recently, I wanted to understand music better. In this case, I stumbled upon this topic by trying to see how people transcribe complex stuff (Frank Zappa’s Black Page, complex drum solos come to mind here), so I searched something like “transcribe nested tuplets” and that found me this thread. Then I took it as a challenge to simplify your rhythm (that possibly could be helpful).

Understandable, I tried to preserve the original rhythm as much as possible, so that maybe necessarily leads to such complexity. Maybe there is a way to simplify the rhythm and let the performer themselves vary stuff a bit. Maybe there’s even a way to mark that on sheet even, such as rubato or maybe other concept. Did you figure out how you’d like to see this rhythm transcribed? If yes, I’d be curious to know. Though, I guess this rhythm could be extra obfuscated due to the midi latency settings issue.

Thanks for sharing your new workflow. Though, that makes me wonder: do you play those against some sort of click or programmed drums? Otherwise, I wonder how the tempo fluctuations could make this even harder and more obscure to match those (original and re-transcription) to play at the same time not out of tempo.

Just to add to your point about swing, intuitively to me that makes sense, if the intent is swing and not a “specific” rhythm. This is especially true when swing could vary in the ratio (some sort of “undefined” ratio, up to performer to “choose”) and be not just triplet swing. Otherwise, you could get even more complicated tuplets, and in fact, “quintuplet” (and beyond) swing seems to be a thing.

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You could have fooled me – you definitely speak the language of complex music ideas quite well. Seems like you have a strong grasp of this topic! :slight_smile:

Actually in fact I think the midi latency issue was part of the problem here. That rhythm is not what it seems, so what it sounded like in reality was very much obfuscated by technical issues with my midi setup, but also poor quantization settings on my part. I would say that it’s nearly pointless to try to make sense of it based on what it appears to say due to these issues, and unfortunately for that specific example I never saved the file (I was just running an example test!).

I do record in with a click, but additionally I often purposefully play with a bit of swing and rubato just naturally and intuitively. Also because I play with a lot of grace notes, I have discovered these are problematic, for you see they are usually notated on the beat, even though in reality they are played slightly before. When manually playing in this way, grace notes add another level of unnecessarily complexity where the software sometimes recognizes them, but sometimes thinks they are a triplet and therefore shifts everything down in time (or generates unusual math to make up the difference).

I am learning for example it can be best to actually play the idea I have in mind more straight, and then sycnopate the notation or swing the playback after the fact – since that is more realistic of how notation would work.

Yes, for sure, and to see this in action, I feel like you can look up stuff like jazz licks and transcriptions, which are often written out in straight rhythms like so:

(found from a random google image search, I don’t know if that is from a specific song or simply a lick inspired in the style of Charlie Parker).

These are all straight 8th notes on the page. Nonetheless the playing instructions are not explicitly stated, but idiomatically speaking it is frequently implied or understood that it would be swung, and in fact a player would have a bit of flexibility to add some looseness to the phrasing, with a rubato feel here and there, even unwritten grace notes and decoration. In that sense the notation is mostly to inform the player of what notes to play and within a general rhythmic framework. In the real world a player will bring much more expression to the rhythm which would actually be wildly difficult to notate and sight read – so you can see why I arrived at the conclusion to play things in more straight when I record so I capture the intended notes and framework more accurately!

Interestingly you can look outside of jazz and modern music to see the same issue at hand – classical solo works are notably performed with a rubato feeling that would be pointless to rhythmically notate. A great example could be Bach’s famous Cello Suite I - G Major Prelude. The score is mostly unbroken straight 16th notes, but almost every great performance out there stretches the note values far beyond the page with their own interpretation. However, it would have never made sense to write it that way, nor would it make sense to transcribe a performance that way.

With all this in mind, and my midi-latency fix, it has made it much easier to capture my ideas which more closely align with my intention!

there are a few issues.

  1. It’s good to know what you’re playing rhythmically, or at least have it set in relation to the metronome. That’s why - I think - it’s good to record (notate) notes with a click. This affects our internal mobilization and concreteness, awareness of the rhythm used, even if this awareness is not entirely complete.
    Moreover, the click keeps our imagination and expression at bay.
    Musical notation cannot fully reflect this - no one plays as smoothly as an automaton - there are minimal deviations, either due to lack of skill or due to one’s own artistry, expression, and way of playing.
    But playing with a click like this helps - I think - to master the material and consciously use rhythm. Then, in playing, this humanization occurs, adding one’s own expression.
    The score is not there to note down such things. The score must be orderly and legible and show the composition. Interpretation can turn this strict, clear ordering into an artistically processed performance with nuances and rhythmic adjustments.

To sum up - whether I’m composing or taking notes via midi - I play with a click. This helps me - and it also helps me improve the rhythm recorded by the program.
Because it seems to me that not only do we play a bit imprecisely (or with a higher resolution than the resolution of the notes), but the program is not infallible and has its own way of “thinking”. Then I confront it with my own understanding of what I am playing and improve it.
Nice fun too.

Hi, I appreciate your input and concern. I will say that as someone who has played drums and percussion for nearly 40 years, at one point professionally, the use of syncopation I was referring to is something I am in full technical command over, and when I play ahead or behind the beat with a sense of rubato I do so with intention, not by accident or rhythmic deficiency. In fact I will often move from dead on to a looser feel depending on the phrase, again doing so by creative design, to add a humanized or expressive feel for example. So playing in time is preaching to the choir :slight_smile:

The rhythms in my original post were where they should land, musically by design, but as I learned in due time there were two aspects which were creating issues for me: the first being purely technical, as I had my midi latency settings incorrect which was causing a delay, so even when playing to a click, the data was arriving late into Dorico and therefore it was translating it into rather unusual math.

Secondly, even with my professional drumming experience, a vast majority of my career has been spent in the realms of jazz and rock, where I rarely ever had to read notation - it’s largely been improvised and intuitive. So while I can play advanced rhythms, in the past few years I have been playing catchup with my ability to read and write them into useable notation, which is another story altogether. So my original post reflected a misunderstanding on my part of how complex swinging rhythms are (or are not) notated. I have been learning a lot and coming to understand that it’s in fact better to play the rhythms in more straight, less swinging, less rubato (even if that is my creative intent), and then add a humanized or swinging feel back in playback or manual adjustment in key editor, as well as in the score directions if needed. This certainly makes life a lot easier, my original approach was like trying to force a square peg into a round hole!

Finally it should be noted that the Dorico click is always on by default, and is actually impossible to disable once recording, unless you go to the trouble of manually muting it in the mixer.

I’ll be new to Dorico because I’m going to buy it - that’s why I came here - because I like to read about something that I will use.
I have GuitarPro and Finale for notating and I’m a guitarist.
But I wrote a post - because it is a universal issue.
I didn’t think about drums because the notes you showed didn’t look like a drum track.
You have good conclusions - I think - and are consistent with mine. Refraining from too loose a swing and being accurate when taking notes through the program is probably the most important thing. Of course, MIDI synchronization too.
One more thing:
When I compose and take notes - and I often do both at the same time - e.g. a more complicated or sophisticated melody, solo - I do it at a slower pace than the target tempo. Even half as much. Sometimes even slower.
On the one hand, it’s easier for me to think about it - on the other hand, it’s easier to place it exactly. Especially when these are denser notes and rhythmically diversified.
I don’t take notes much via midi - because taking notes is not difficult for me, and correcting is equally time-consuming. I also like to just record small parts that I’m working on over and over - sometimes a few phrases, sometimes bars, sometimes a single bar. It’s on the guitar.
Because I program the drums (set) myself, I record the additions from the pads, and then I have midi at work. Other instruments with keyboard or writes sheet music.

So only this guitar is similar to your situation at work - that I write down what I play with my fingers. The rest is rather the opposite - I write midi and midi plays - haha.

about Bach.
He wrote a lot of sixteenth notes - and indeed SOMETIMES they play them differently (but often quite precisely) - but notice that many of these pieces (as well as in Mozart, Vivaldi, etc.) are very motoric pieces - and motoricity often requires perfect playing and accentuation.
Moreover, these are often orchestral pieces - and there is no room for individual expression - the soloist is different, but also within reasonable limits.
My point is that when Bach wrote sixteenth notes, in my opinion he assumed equal playing, motor skills - but of course in a human sense - so both phrasing and the so-called questioning and answering, the conversation of voices - all this allowed for rhythmic nuances.

I’m sorry if I bored you, but this is a very fascinating topic for me, which does not mean that I am in any way imposing my view - as the only right one. NO.

Sorry to confuse the issue, that was most likely a lyrical part on a solo instrument, it might have been violin or oboe - I never saved the project so I can’t remember. But having spent a large part of my life as a drummer, I can’t help but to think and play melodies like a drummer, for better or worse :wink:

For my workflow, often what I like to do, is noodle about on the piano while my composition is playing, in search of a melody I like. When I dig it, I will go back and record it in (with that click going). This could even be a slow tempo piece, but originally rather than thinking of giving Dorico something mathematically useable, I made the mistake of playing as if I was recording into a DAW (which I will admit is my background) - recording for the most expressive performance, not thinking about notation, expecting Dorico to just “figure it out” and frustrated when it didn’t. So I would add my own loose phrasing, play very fast grace notes, play in-and-out of a swinging feel. Again with a musical intent and command that I feel good about, but not understanding at the time how that doesn’t always add up correctly for notation! So forcing myself to capture an idea “straight” without swing and without excessive ornamentation has also enabled me to think even more about the music, perhaps simplifying where necessary; and has improved my rhythmic notation skills even away from the computer. All good learning experiences I think.

With Bach, yes I think that room for expression with timing extends in particular to a solo piece. I have been learning cello the past few years and begun to learn the suites. It’s interesting when looking up performances of very famous and respected cellists how wildly different their timing interpretations are, some play the pieces nearly straight the entire way through, and others are generous with a sense of push and pull, almost excessively so. But of course, the masters who play it very loosely have only arrived at that point having mastered it in even time, so when they play loosely they do this knowing exactly what they are doing for an expressive effect.

But transcribing a performance like that to be exact within the confines of a meter would be a fool’s errand. It has really deepened my appreciation for score interpretation - and finding the humanity within and beyond dots on a page!

Well - if someone wants to perfectly imitate what and how another person plays the instrument - they now have the opportunity - because there are recordings.
And yet the sheet music still exists. And good. Because it forces both the composer and the performer to be specific.

I read that Verdi, or one of the great opera composers, was probably very angry that his arias were “embellished” by the performers of the arias with various additions, because it was often a result of the desire to show off such capabilities and skills to the audience, rather than the desire to show these artistic values.

You are learning the cello - beautiful sound. I studied violin at school - for 8 years - but I switched to guitar. More possibilities - at least for me.

aha - there’s also this stretching of sounds by performers, an “artistic experience”. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes a bit unbearable, catching on mannerisms. You probably have to be careful not to overdo it.
Interpretation is something that determines the final effect and the class, subtlety and artistry of the performer. All in all, this is what distinguishes him from other performers - that his interpretation is among the better or worse ones - sometimes bringing out what others did not bring out from the notes - and sometimes spoiling the composer’s intention. The assessment depends on the listeners’ sensitivity and probably their auscultation and culture.

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