Can this rhythm be notated in the way Bach meant?

The attached image shows two versions of a bar of music by Bach. The rhythm in the lower version is how it appears in the surviving manuscript, but the implied real rhythm is shown fully notated above it. My question is, can this be notated in the less fussy way Bach has it, whilst still preserving the precise playback that is intended?

I know that visually the effect can be achieved using tuplets with the bracket and figure hidden, but this would play back slightly differently (triplet demi-semi-quavers v straight demi-semi-quavers). I know I am splitting hairs here - I’m asking only out of curiosity, not necessity! Playback is not that important to me! But such implied rhythms are quite a common thing in music of a certain age and I am torn between writing out in full and preserving the original style. Is the hidden tuplet trick the only option?

I’m a bit outside of my area here, but I would think adjusting the playback start and end offset would allow the playback to sound as intended.

You are almost there. But try it with a tuplet that squeezes six 32nds into the duration of five.

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Interesting, but they’d still be tuplets.

What I’m saying is: do not enclose the g, f and e in a tuplet, but the dotted eighth a instead.


The execution practice of Bach works include a dotted rhythm executed as if the dot were a double dot. (Not always, obviously). Thus the tuplet solution is perfectly correct in this context (bracket and 3 hidden). All the notes after a dot could be even shorter, also the 16th.

Thanks @Alexander_Ploetz - you are exactly right! Annoyed that I didn’t think of it!

Great to read that your technical problem is solved.
An interesting example, I just want to add my 2 cents: I really don’t like the Bach-way of writing it, since it’s mathematically plain wrong… when interpreting it, I’d think that the three 32nds actually should be a triplet with omitted number above it, so please keep the explanation above (which might be correct since I’m probably not a specialist for baroque music notation). If this rhythmical detail is really important for the style is another question, though (at least if there are no other players)… :innocent:
Just curious: What instrument is (and was) this written for? Looks like tenor viol with modern clef, but I still don’t understand the V6-marking … ? Help is appreciated. :smiley:

Yes @Waldbaer , the technical problem is well and truly solved and I definitely don’t wish to open a discussion on period performance practice in this forum.
For information, it’s a transcription for classical guitar of the lute suite BWV 995. The V6 marking indicates the left index finger is to cross all 6 strings at the 5th (V) fret. Classical guitar music sounds an octave lower than written, and is often written with the 8b G clef. I am only scoring it in Dorico as an exercise to see what issues come up! There are plenty of editions available - the world doesn’t need another from me!