Fiendish Quintuplet Conundrum

Hehe. That’s what my screen looks like if I accidentally select a bunch or quarter- and eighth-notes and inadvertently hit the 2 key.

Is that for reals? Or just a parody? If I were the composer, I’d be way too embarrassed to share that augenmusik with anyone.


Thanks, John. I second your analysis. On the other hand, it’s been 130 years since Tchaikovsky wrote a 5/4 movement in his 6th Symphony, so you’d think we’d have solved this issue by now.

This particular example is frustrating, because it’s truly not tricksy! If you can say, “1, 2, 3 and 4, 5,” you can play it.

Not that anyone asked, but for now I’m just gonna notate in 2/4 or 4/8 and use quintuplet brackets throughout, despite the five feel.

Again: This is my first-ever forum query, and I’m overwhelmed by the knowledge and generosity of my fellow Dorico geeks. (I’ve been on the platform for less than a year, after just one two many “Burn in hell, Avid!” episodes.) And despite this particular frustration, I’m delighted to be here.

Thanks, everyone. Sooo appreciated!

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It’s by Ferneyhough, probably the most famous (infamous?) composer in the New Complexity movement. I basically picked that sample at random, but all his music is that rhythmically complex. You can peruse his Peters stuff on Issuu.

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No way! Really, I was just about to post, “Stupid me, of course it’s a joke!” How do you play a gliss between two notes of the same pitch, like in Flute 1 after the 5/8 sign? And lotsa luck getting a flute to play ppp in that register. Silly rabbit!


They actually aren’t same pitch, if you look closely they are a quarter tone apart (little up arrow on the natural), but yeah, whatever. It’s basically unplayable exactly as notated, which is sort of the point.

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Oh — can’t see the arrow at this resolution. Okay, so lotsa luck going between the microtonal pitches without producing a gliss. And what’s with the mordent sign, minus any indication of the secondary pitch (since it can’t be deduced from a tonal context)?

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“Unplayable as written” isn’t a new concept! I ascribe to the theory that some of the incredibly difficult passages in R. Strauss’s tone poems were written to create a deliberate blurring effect, ‘cause Strauss knew the passages couldn’t be rendered exactly as written by orchestras of the era.

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FWIW - I could do this in 5.1, which I’m now learning:
Enter the two minims as an 8:5e tuplet; hide this 8:5 tuplet, then make a 2:2h tuplet. Although the latter tuplet is tautologous, it gives the visual appearance you wanted back in September 2022

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It seems there are a lot of knowledgeable people on this thread. I have a related one that has gone nowhere so I will post here. In a song, I have parts I played where the hands play quintuplets or septuplets, while the bass drum is playing quarter note triplets. I think I had a pretty good approximate accuracy but when I tried to notate it I had the kinds of problems described here. Score put the bass drum in line with the tuplets, and when I tried to have good looking tuplets, I got messages about not having nested tuplets and other attempts made a mess.
tuplets score prob
Derived from drum part.

Can you give us a key to what instruments are playing what (in your bottom grid, especially)?
Second, your staff view seems to imply the kick drum is being played by hands rather than feet, which appears impossible for a standard drum set

The best solution to me seems to be to enter your notes (and tuplet brackets) in the single line format and to make sure your kit defines stem direction to separate hands and feet.

drumExample.dorico (617.6 KB)