Tuplets with two different units?

Is it possible to do tuplets in Dorico with two different units (i.e. x in the space of y, where x and y do not have to both be of the same base rhythmic value)? If it is, I can’t seem to figure out how.

I’m in a piece where I would like to have 3e:5s (three 8th notes in the space of five 15th notes). I say this full well acknowledging that this is generally ill-advised, and Elaine Gould specifically argues against doing this sort of thing in Behind Bars. However, it should be possible as it is rather common in contemporary scores, and there are specific cases where it it is beneficial. For example, I’m writing something now that has some 5/16 bars (at overall tempo of q = 100), so they really just feel like a stretched 1/4 bar. I would like a triplet over that 5/16, but to do 3:5, it has to be 16th notes, which look far faster than the music really is or feels. To get it to look like 8th notes, I need to put 6:5s and then do three 8th notes, which, although accurate, is more complicated than it really is, and furthermore, implies that the music is speed up (6:5), when really, you’re slowing a faster pulse: 3:5 — essentially fitting a triplet inside a slightly slower quarter note.

Perhaps you can nest the whole thing inside a 2:1 tuplet? I’ll see if I can make an example…

Hi @pcg1993 maybe you are looking for Contracting ratio? Once you have the 6 in your tuplet, you can select the number and use the property, so it changes it to 3:

1- insert a tuplet with he popover: 6-16th in the space of 5-16th (6:5x):

2- write your eight notes (eventually you need force duration):

3- select the 6 of the tuplet and choose Use contracting ratio in the properties. The result is 3-8th in the space of 5-16th:

Thanks @Christian_R That’s very close to what I mean, and is helpful — I actually didn’t realize that feature was there. That’ll have to do for now, and is passable, But technically speaking, the thing is, when you do that, you get this:


(sorry just did it on random notes lol)

And the problem with that is that it’s actually not quite accurate, because that tuplet notation says three in the space of five 16th notes, but it’s really three 8th notes in the space of five 16th notes. In other words the ratio above the tuplet should read 3e:5x (where e and x are 8th and 16th notes), because 3:5x implies 3x:5x. In this case, it’s clear enough, but in more complex examples, it could be very ambiguous what the actual speed of a tuplet is, by a factor of twice/half, which could be problematic. I’ve seen 3e:5x style tuplets in numerous scores, even if Elaine Gould does discourage it… I wouldn’t think it would be that hard to create. Thanks again – the contracting thing will have to do for now, it seems.

You could hide the real tuplet and use staff text to create the tuplet you want:


This example uses music text from the Tuplets range (U+E880–U+E88F) and the Individual notes range (U+E1D0–U+E1EF). The notes are half the size of the tuplet characters and baseline shift is used to lower the notes.


IMO 3e:5x is too complex to be informative. “6:5” would make the relative speed much clearer for the player. That there are 3 notes in the group couldn’t be more obvious, so the “3” isn’t adding anything.


Not sure if I like this, but would something like this work?

Screenshot 2024-05-13 at 9.49.47 AM
(made in a word processor)

I believe that if I saw 6:5 I would be more rather than less confused. Perhaps my admittedly rather unusual symbol would more clearly ground the player(s) in the relation to the whole measure that you seem to be after, @pcg1993 …?

I should have said 6:5x showing the 16th note. Any better?

I think I would still get confused at seeing 3 eighth notes instead of 6 sixteenth notes under the tuplet. But that may well just be my shortcoming.

Thank you!!! Of COURSE, that does solve it!

It really depends on context and I usually agree with this, but at certain tempos, for certain music, it makes perfect sense – it’s how you feel it. The 5/16 is a big “one” and you’re putting 3 inside of it…

That’s fun and I get what you’re doing, but I think it would confuse people, or at least require them to take time to figure it out. It’s just not standard, even if it’s plenty clear as a concept. What @johnkprice put above is essentially this, but with the notational system that people are used to. Thanks all!

I’m in a piece where I would like to have 3e:5s (three 8th notes in the space of five 15th notes).

Please, tell me this was a typo…

There may be a few points of connection with and interest in this other recent thread: Tuplet ratios

There are, of course, performers accustomed to reading “complex” tuplets in various formats, but I agree that @johnkprice 's approach is very clear. Glad you found a solution that works for you, @pcg1993 !

That’s actually simple; it breaks down to two nested triplets.