Notation for triplet / swing / shuffle feel

• May 5, 2011 - 19:20

Is there a way to enter a note at the top of the score indicating triplet/swing/shuffle feel?

E.g. pieces that need to be played with underlying 3-based feel are very often notated in straight-4 notation, which makes it much more convenient. At the top of the score symbols are used that show this.

(It's hard to reproduce without using a picture, but I'll try)

[symbol for quater] = [triplet of 8's]
[two 8's] = [quarter followed by 8's, both joined by a triplet bracket on top]

Is there such thing in MuseScore?

I don't really need this for a proper swing playback, but want to be able to create standard-looking lead sheets.
Of course there is a way to simply say "Swing" at the top of the score, but it doesn't convey the idea cleanly: it conveys both, the "swing feel" of the piece, and actual time values of written notes. While I may want to address the time values aspect, I may not necessarily want to instruct the musicians to play the piece with a jazz swing feel.

Another way would be to simply notate the piece in 12/8, but sometimes using 4/4 is SO much more convenient.


The way to simply put "Swing" at the top is to select something in the first bar, and from the top row menu "Create" select "text", then "system text" That gets you to the point of entering text.

What you can do at that point is press the function key F2. It gets you a palette of symbols, including notes. You could select the quarter note, then exit the palette, type in space - equals - space, then go back to the palette and put in three 8's. They'll be flagged instead of beamed, unfortunately. And they'll be kinda small. You can click in a blank area to exit text entry, then single click select the stuff you just entered, right click for a menu, and adjust its size. Then go back and enter another piece of text to get an appropriately small number "3", and click and drag everything to where it looks OK.

-- J.S.

In reply to by newsome

That's great - thanks for posting this!

Personally, though, I would just write "swing eighths" and be done with it. Unless you really want triplets instead of swing (real swing is nowhere near as exaggerated as a triplet), going to the trouble of writing triplets explicitly would be counterproductive - if taken literally, you'd get a result that didn't swing at all. And if you really *do* want triplets instead of swing, you can get that by writing "triplet feel".

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I almost always just put in a tempo, then edit the text to say "Swing Style." Occasionally I'll be doing a chart for someone else, or want to do something that I really want to look professional, so I'll put this graphic in.

Also, I want to mention that I can't take credit for creating this. Someone else created it and shared it on the forums some time ago, and I saved it. I'm only "paying it forward" and passing it along again.

In reply to by newsome

Thanks for that. But it appears too large on the page. Is there a way to size it?

I do not need the playback engine to know, I just need to indicate for the reader that the piece has a shuffle feel.

I prefer not using words. I could do that by drawing the two beamed eighth notes equals the triplet quarter eighth figure but a drag and drop graphic does seem cool.


Hi, the original post is quite a few days old, but I found it, when I had the same problem. Since I didn't want to use a PNG file, but a SVG (=vector graphics, which does not lose it's quality whatever size you will need (like with fonts)), I made a special Musescore sheet of music for the swing rhythm only. You can export it form this score to every format supported by Musescore (PDF, SVG, PNG...) and afterwards import it as a graphic into your score. I recommend – as stated above – the SVG format. If you need a different swing rhythm, it can be easily changed in my Musescore file. Btw. all grey stuff in my file is invisible and will not be exported to the graphic file.
The font I used for the triplet number and the equal sign is Calibri (a Microsoft font, so it comes with Windows or MS Office) – of course you can change the font.
The Musescore file I attached to this post is made with version 2.1, you may use the xml-file, if you still (have to) use a version of Musescore, which can not open it. I added also an SVG-file as an example.

In reply to by enkidu

Rather quite a few years. And such an svg is around somewhere in the forum since a while too ;-)
But indeed thanks for the mscz, should make it quite easy to create other SVGs. Using FreeSerif instead of Calibri would make it more universal, as that is built into MuseScore

this is such an old post, but really useful, exactly what i was looking for... thank you everyone, for the png files and mscz files too..
just a question - notating is one thing, is there any way to get musescore to play it in the swing rhythm? :)

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