Inputting tuplets: how to get correct note values

There is a huge amount of prior discussion in the user forum on inputting tuplets, but I can’t locate an answer to my question. Maybe I’m missing something basic – and the manual is a bit confusing:

The underlying note values allocated by Dorico for tuplets at times appear incorrect.

Here is an example from my score, with a quarter note in one part, and a run of 9 notes in the other part. By convention, there should be a ‘round-down’ – the 9 notes should be notated as 32nd notes, i.e. with 3 beams. Instead, the default input from Dorico, using “Tuplets” from the Notes toolbox, notates them as 16th notes, i.e. with 2 beams.

Why is this, and how to fix?

Screen Shot 2023-10-02 at 6.21.52 PM

I don’t normally click in the toolbox so I’m not sure about it.

I enter the key command after I’ve selected which note value I want to use. Then enter a ratio into the popover - eg 8:6, which will produce 8 of those notes in the space of 6.

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Dorico allows you to notate tuplets however you want. Your example shows 9:4x (x= 16ths, so 9 16ths in the space of 4 16ths). If you wanted 32nds you could have entered 9:8y in to the popover (9 32nds in the space of 8 32nds).

If you do not enter a specific base (h, q, e, x …) into the tuplet popover, Dorico will use whatever note length you have currently selected.

This might all sound confusing, but is actually very logical and very powerful.

To unwind this one. Select the tuplet (the number, not the notes). Engage Insert mode (I). Delete [the tuplet]. Select the 9 notes and change their duration (hit 3). Then invoke the tuplet popover ; 9:8. Disengage Insert mode (I). Enter.


Thanks but I’m still unclear on the different operations.

My understanding is that in standard music notation, there is a fixed style that governs the
number of beams on notes, in simple tuplet formation. If I want 9 equal note values fitting
into a quarter note, they always must be notated with 3 beams (i.e. as 32nd notes). This is
a ‘round-down’ rule (beaming of the 9 notes uses the convention of the next lower power-of-2, which is having 8 notes). There should be no user choice, by default. In my example, I was
able to specify 2 beams (i.e. as 16th notes) for each of the 9 notes – which is incorrect.

I’ve tried both of your example options.

The “9:4x” allows one to allocate 9 notes per quarter
note (i.e. duration of 4 16th notes), and each is notated with 2 beams – which violates normal

The “9:8y” option allows one to allocate 9 notes per quarter note (i.e. duration or 8 32nd notes),
and each is notated with 3 beams – which follows correct convention.

So, I’m raising, why does Dorico not have a default to follow ‘normal’ music convention, but the
user can use any beaming convention, depending on the specified ratio + base?

Thanks again.

When you are entering the tuplet, Dorico does not restrict you to starting a tuplet that only covers a quarter. You can even start a tuplet that continues into the next bar, if that is what you want.

If you look at the properties for a tuplet, you will see you can show the ratio (9:4) if you need it to be more specific in relation to the basic unit of the tuplet.

What you call the ‘normal’ musical convention is actually a sloppy shorthand.

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Yes, I’ve seen how there is inertia on the tuplet mode, and it will continue till I stop it.
Very nicely allows a run of consecutive tuplets to be entered.

I also see all the flexible options of how to bracket tuplets, whether ratios or single numbers
should be listed, etc.

That wasn’t however, the issue I was raising. I thought that there is a fixed/standard music
convention, that 9 notes fitting in 1 quarter beat must always be notated with 3-beams.
I’ve seen and learned this. Is this incorrect?

Thanks again

I think you and I would be able to find many published examples that are exceptions to this ‘rule’. I recall a number of occasions when transcribing 18C scores using MuseScore or Sibelius that I was unable to reproduce the original because those programs forced me to follow your ‘rule’.


Dorico doesn’t allow you to mix and match values in the tuplet popover. It would be nice if you could, but you can’t. You are telling Dorico to put nine 16ths in the span of four 16ths so it is doing exactly what you are asking it to do.

Yes, that is the standard. I don’t have any issue with Dorico doing this though. Tell Dorico you want 9 in the span of 8 and start 32nd input. Works fine. Gif below:

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Thanks @Janus. This may be, and probably is the reason Dorico has this flexibility. However, I do believe the normal default is fixed, as I’ve described – a rounding down to the
nearest power-of-two.

@ FredGUnn: appreciated. However I never said Dorico had any issue implementing this. Just that Dorico leaves the user the freedom for arbitrary # of beams in a tuplet – and this isn’t how much standard music is notated. There are common conventions.

Another reason Dorico is powerful as non other is its ability to nest (and hide) tuplets. It can actually solve any rhythmical problem. So if you have a cadenza in the middle of an orchestral piece, you can write it as a tuplet exactly as you want it to appear, with no connection to the rule you’re referring to (and it is right!).
As Spiderman used to say, with great power comes great responsability, so you need to know your rule and apply it correctly, as Dorico will let you write tuplets exactly as you want, not following rules.


Wait, you’re asking for less flexibility and less ability for the user to customize these? I can’t say I’m on board with that. In fact, I’d like Dorico to provided even greater flexibility with these similar to how Finale works. In Finale you can easily specify any number of a duration occurring within the span of any number of another duration. So if for some reason, I want 7 half notes appearing within a span of 4 sixteenths I could just type 7h/4x.

Tuplets can often be used in unconventional ways as workarounds too. I know I’ve used them when I’ve had mixed meters occurring simultaneously, and for some educational handouts. There is one modernist composer who is very active here who places the barlines between the staves of a grand staff and uses hidden tuplets for literally everything. Limiting tuplets to the “correct” way, even though I agree with that standard, would be an awful development for the user.


If you had studied with Nadia Boulanger, this would have been deemed correct although I agree that 32nd’s are more common in this situation.

All very useful comments and appreciated. In fact, I did study with Nadia Boulanger.

I never asked for less flexibility. One of the beautiful things of much of Dorico is its layering. Carefully chosen defaults in many areas allow one to use it out of the box for common situations and it comes out well. Then, one can dig into properties or other manipulation of defaults. And even deeper for advanced users, create new symbols, alter fonts, change position of accents, etc. This is a great hierarchical approach to the user interface.

The point is, if this layering seamlessly allows beginning users to not think too much, while providing huge capabilities for advanced users to customize. I’m simply raising that a default for triplets that follows common conventions would make things less confusing.

A great thing about this forum is not only for less experienced users to learn from more experienced ones, but where more experienced ones can learn from less experienced ones, who are looking at it with fresh eyes. There have been multiple posts of new users who are intimidated by the learning curve with Dorico. Small adjustments such as the one I indicate can be helpful to alleviate the confusion.

I’m sorry but the “I’m only showing compassion for the poor beginner” line only goes so far with me. It doesn’t substitute for lack of musical education. To use a program like Dorico requires a certain amount of musical knowledge and a certain amount of preparation. It is unrealistic, in my opinion, to expect the Development Team to abandon their road map to cover for folks who do are uncertain how to format a tuplet.

That is what this forum is for: to help acclimate those folks to the program. Programmers don’t have time to program in routines for every personal whim of users; they do considerable research on musical common practices and try mightily to respond to generally useful suggestions.

Just my two cents worth.


Impressive tirade. It’s worth rereading my posts, this is far from what I raised. There are many settings of Dorico which already have common defaults (accidental cancellation policy, accent position, sf display) with simple configuration control for users who want to customize. This balance of simple out-of-box settings + deep control possibilities is a huge selling point for Dorico. Possibly unique. I was suggesting the same could be done for tuplets.

I’ve seen a huge openness of Daniel + team to get feedback on how to improve this great product. And a small handful of dedicated users who react vociferously to any suggestion. (Including from experienced musicians.)

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I think the trick is to know what you want before inputting your tuplet. If you are using the Notes Toolbox, presumably you are using the x:y option because the ratio of 9:8 is not there. Whenever you input any notes, you have to select a duration type, so if you have a quarter rest and you want nine notes to fill it and your input note value choice is 16ths, Dorico will input nine 16ths, but it will take up a half notes worth of duration, which is correct. If you select 32nd notes and input 9:8 then you will get the correct tuplet in the right amount of time. The only way you can get what you originally posted, in other words nine 16ths in the space of a quarter note is to select the ratio of 9:4. Presuming you know that you want 9 in the space of 8 you would not use this ratio, and if you have the incorrect note value selected, then you will discover that it is also wrong because your tuplet will take up too much room. So I’m not sure that the default is wrong, although I do sympathize because it can take a few goes to get it ‘right’, at least to begin with.

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I just wanted to mention this doesn’t matter at all with pitch-first input. After selecting the ratio, Dorico will automatically create the tuplet using the base value of the next note you input.

I think what the OP (original poster or original post??) is getting at is just what the default should be.

In an ideal world there might be two tuplet-entry modes available:

One if you want to enter tuplets using settings that might be considered standard. eg if you enter 9:4, rather than Dorico entering 9 crotchets in the space of 4 crotchets, it enters 9 [whatever it should be] in the space of 4 crotchets.

And the other if you want to be able to enter tuplets as you currently can.

Anyways, this is just spitballing. I would still use the current method if I had the choice.