Help: Tuplet confusion

Hi all,

I think I’m quite possibly misunderstanding how to notate tuplets. My understanding or logic is…

a: How many notes do you want to notate
b: How many of the current note duration would normally fit into 1 beat


Thus, for notating this bar…

I can notate the following…

3:2 = 3 quavers (normal triplet)
9:4 = 9 semiquavers (groups of 9 notes)

Note: I ignored what was written (the group of 5) and wrote
6:4 = 6 semiquavers (first beat of the left hand)

My issue, confusion and lack of comprehension is, how do I notate the first inner group of 9 notes?

To me this looks like a standard 9:4 tuplet where the publisher decided the dot on the final 8th note was not important. How that’s supposed to line up with the 5-tuplet below (if that is what’s desired) is another issue.

Out of curiosity, what piece is this and by whom?

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Hi JoshuaLuty,

It’s the 2nd movement (Intermezzo) of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto.

Yes, it’s the mathematics that I think is confusing me…

The admit I don’t understand the 5-tuplet, what I’m seeing is a 6:4 group… as for the group of 9 semiquavers, again, I’m confused… as you say, if the last quaver was dotted all is fine… the issue is the next bar does the same, so I’m hoping I’m fundamentally misunderstanding something that someone can highlight :frowning:

My reaction is to think you got it right, 6:4 does work and 5:4 makes no sense… Maybe an edition mistake? Those things happen…

Rachmaninov’s music tends to be full of this rhythmic fudgery. The hard part is deciding equivocally what was intended — certainly it’s not a matter to try and fake this in Dorico. I’m not an expert in Rachmaninov and can’t say anything further other than that I don’t think it’s a mistake.

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Ok, fine. But those two semi-quavers really line up with the 9-plet above… :person_shrugging:

They don’t in the score though :wink:

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Does that…make this easier? Or harder?

I don’t know what it means either. Here’s the first edition of the score:

(The OP’s post is from the first edition of two piano version. Both are on IMSLP.)

Muzgiz edition seems to have the same:

Ahah! But somebody’s corrected it to a 3 in the more recent Moscow engraving:

Firstly, thank you JoshuaLuty, MarcLarcher and pianoleo for you interest… it really has been driving me mad for days avoiding this bar.

Thank you once again pianoleo…

The dotted quaver in the first 9 tuplet makes me happy to see

May I ask if the Moscow engraving is freely and publicly available?

Sure. It’s the last result on this page: Piano Concerto No.3, Op.30 (Rachmaninoff, Sergei) - IMSLP: Free Sheet Music PDF Download
(and I note it was scanned by Kirill Kuzmin, who occasionally appears on the Dorico Facebook group.)

Thank you very much pianoleo

I happen to have recopied this passage for my own education earlier this year. Looking back at it, the solution I came up with for the 5-let was to treat the two 16ths as 32nds (using a hidden 2:1), so they end up very slightly faster than the prevailing 16ths (10 to a quarter instead of 9). This makes sense to me because:

  1. The low F is not aligned with the C in RH (the one that isn’t dotted) in O.E. Whatever the rhythms, the composer certainly aligned the notes in the order he wanted them played.
  2. Since all of these 9s are triplets-within-triplets, those 16ths are actually faster than regular 32nds (9 to a quarter instead of 8). Writing the LH as 16ths makes them look “the same”. Even though the math of the quintuplet is wrong, it would look stranger in this context to write them as proper 32nds.

At least Rachy wrote tuplet numbers, where many composers just omitted them and let the pianist figure it out (or play freely!) … I’ve been recopying Ravel Miroirs this week and finding quite a few illogical notations in that O.E. (PM me if you want to know.)

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Kirill is my co-worker! Ha.


I’ve done that last year… Une barque sur l’océan is a real hidden tuplets exercise by itself!